Echocardiography is now widely accepted as a reliable and repeatable procedure. It is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to produce moving images of one’s heart. After electrocardiography and chest X-ray, it is the most commonly performed cardiovascular screening procedure.
- A heart’s size and shape are depicted in the images. They also reveal the condition of the heart’s chambers and valves.
- Because of inadequate blood flow or damage from a prior heart attack, echocardiography may also identify parts of the heart muscle that aren’t contracting well.
- Echocardiography is a non-invasive diagnostic test that may reveal details about heart function and hemodynamics.
- Possible blood clots within the heart, fluid accumulation in the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart), and aorta complications can all be identified with this test.
- Doctors also use this technique to detect heart problems in infants and children.
- In patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, echocardiography is crucial. It allows the clinician to diagnose, assess the seriousness of the disease, obtain prognostic information, and track treatment progress. In most cases, dilated cardiomyopathy can be identified with an echocardiogram, especially in patients with significantly impaired left ventricular function (advanced forms).
- Patients at risk of pulmonary hypertension may benefit from noninvasive screening with transthoracic echocardiography.
Echocardiography is a procedure that produces live pictures of the heart using sound waves. The image is called an echocardiogram. This test allows the doctor to monitor how the heart and its valves are working. Damaged cardiac tissue, chamber enlargement, stiffening of the heart muscle, blood clots in the heart, fluid around the heart, and damaged or improperly functioning heart valves are all diagnosed with echocardiograms.
Echocardiography should be used to distinguish dilated cardiomyopathy from other disorders such as valvular heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and coronary artery disease. This is significant because these conditions necessitate different clinical approaches.
Ultrasound (very high-frequency sound waves) are used in echocardiography and are inaudible to human ears. Pressure waves, such as sound waves, can pass through any medium. A piezoelectric crystal embedded inside a transducer generates and detects these waves in echocardiography. They demonstrate how well blood flows via the heart’s chambers and valves.
Echocardiography is also a powerful technique for tracking a patient’s reaction to therapy, and it’s recommended 34 months after starting or changing treatment.
It is a flexible imaging modality for the diagnosis and triage of patients with acute chest pain or dyspnea, as well as the evaluation of left ventricular systolic function, diastolic function, and also myocardial and coronary perfusion.
Information from the echocardiogram might show:
- Changes in the heart size-The chambers of the heart may expand, or the walls of the heart may thicken abnormally due to defective or damaged heart valves, high blood pressure, or other diseases.
- Pumping strength- The amount of blood pumped out of a filled ventricle for each pulse (ejection fraction) and the volume of blood pumped by the heart in one minute are two measures obtained from an echocardiogram (cardiac output). Heart failure symptoms are caused by a heart that isn’t pumping enough blood to satisfy the body’s needs.
- Damage to the heart muscle- An echocardiogram helps the doctor determine whether all parts of the heart wall are normally contributing to the heart’s pumping activity. Areas of the heart wall that move slowly may have been weakened during a heart attack or aren’t getting enough oxygen.
- Valve problems- An echocardiogram might tell a doctor whether a person’s heart valves open large enough to allow for adequate blood flow or close completely to avoid blood leakage.
- Heart defects- An echocardiogram may reveal concerns with the heart chambers, irregular connections between the heart and major blood vessels, and complex congenital heart defects.
Who should get this test?
Almost all patients with heart failure symptoms or signs, including those who have had a myocardial infarction, should have an echocardiographic examination as soon as possible. There might be a few patients of which an investigation will bring nothing to management due to frailty or other complex pathology. Breathlessness is often multifactorial, particularly in the elderly, and echocardiography can help determine the heart’s contribution to the overall symptom load.
When the heart’s chambers and valves look normal and function as they should, this is considered a normal outcome. This ensures that the heart is free of detectable blood clots or tumours and is working correctly.