Everything You Need To Know About Echocardiography

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, pumping oxygen-rich blood to every part of you. It is vital that your heart is working properly, so doctors use echocardiography to assess the function and anatomy of the heart. Here's what you need to know.

What Is Echocardiography?

Echocardiography is an ultrasound of the heart. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create moving images of your heart. An echocardiogram can provide details about "the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart's chambers and valves are working."

What Is the Difference Between an EKG and Echocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram are both diagnostic tests that provide important information about the heart, but they work differently.

An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart. During an EKG, sensors are placed on the chest. These sensors record the electrical signals that cause the heart to beat. The signals are then recorded on paper or displayed on a screen. EKGs can diagnose many heart conditions, including heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, and problems with the heart's structure.

An echocardiogram, on the other hand, uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart. A device called an ultrasound transducer is placed on the chest and emits sound waves that bounce off the structures of the heart. The echoes are then recorded and translated into images of the heart.

Both EKGs and echocardiograms diagnose various heart conditions, but echocardiograms provide more detailed information about blood flow and cardiac function.

Why Is Echocardiography Important?

Echocardiography is an essential tool for diagnosing, treating, and monitoring many heart conditions, including:

  • Structural abnormalities
  • Heart tissue damage
  • Issues with the pumping function
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Poor blood flow
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fluid around the heart

Additionally, echocardiography can be used to guide treatments like pacemakers, catheter ablation, and stent placement.

How Is Echocardiography Paired With Stress Testing?

A stress test is used to evaluate how well your heart handles work. During a stress test, you'll be asked to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike while your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. Stress testing can provide important information about blood flow to your heart muscle and is often paired with cardiography or other imaging tests. Echocardiograms provide detailed pictures of the structure of the heart immediately after a stress test to show how well the heart functions when it's working hard.

Whether you need to assess the structure and function of your heart or monitor a heart condition, echocardiography is an important diagnostic tool. With advanced technology and detailed imaging, echocardiography can provide you with valuable information about your heart health.

For more information about echocardiography, contact a doctor.