An echocardiogram is a medical ultrasound used to visualize the structure and motion of the heart. This procedure is commonly used in cardiology practice to evaluate the health of the patient’s cardiovascular system, especially when other tests are inconclusive or indicate something which may not be clinically visible. An echocardiogram is a standard test for people who have chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or other heart-related problems. The test can determine the presence of fluid around the heart and more. If you have any symptoms that point towards heart disease, you may need to see a Port Saint Lucie echocardiogram specialist to determine the exact cause of your symptoms.
How Is It Done?
The echocardiogram is a painless, noninvasive study that uses sound waves to provide images of your heart. The test takes 15-60 minutes and can be done in a diagnostic center or hospital. Although the ultrasound may emit sounds similar to sonar or “pings” from a submarine, it does not involve radiation.
Your entire chest area will be draped with a sheet or cover to prevent the echocardiogram from being thrown off by movement from your clothes. After applying ultrasound gel to your skin, your doctor will move a transducer device across your skin to capture images of the heart and surrounding structures. You may feel some pressure from the transducer, but it will not cause any pain.
How to Prepare?
It is important to tell your doctor about any allergies, possible heart problems you are aware of, or pregnancy. Also, inform your doctor about any medications (including vitamins and herbal supplements) that you take because some may interfere with the test results. Informing your doctor will help your cardiologist plan for the best course of treatment in advance.
What Is It Used For?
A person can have an echocardiogram for several reasons. Apart from looking at your heart structure, your doctor looks into how well your heart is working or any signs of life-threatening conditions. During the test, your doctor will measure how big and strong your heart is and determine if it is working correctly.
In addition to heart disease, an echocardiogram can be used for many other health problems, including:
- Detection of a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) or a hole in the heart that closes soon after birth
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations
- Cardiac risk assessment in high-risk patients, e.g., those who have had a heart attack, valve surgery or stent insertion, coronary angioplasty followed by placement of a metal mesh tube called a “stent,” structural heart disease, or a congenital heart defect
- Determination of the cause of an abnormal heart sound
- Evaluation to determine if closing a PDA is effective and whether surgery can prevent further problems in very sick premature infants or fetuses with certain congenital disabilities
In summary, an echocardiogram is a simple, painless test that gives your doctor information about the heart’s structure and function. The test only takes 15-60 minutes to complete. To prepare, you should inform your doctor about any allergies, heart problems, or medications you may be taking. You can use an echocardiogram to detect many other health problems apart from heart disease.