Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for Americans, leading to approximately 610,000 deaths every year. While many of these deaths can be contributed to chronic heart disease, a good share of these deaths can be attributed to heart attack and cardiac arrest.
Fortunately, there is a way to determine whether or not a person is at risk for a sudden heart attack. Namely, a person can undergo an echocardiogram or heart ultrasound.
Are you interested in undergoing an echocardiogram? Looking for a little more information on the procedure? You’re in the right place.
Below, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of echocardiograms, focusing in on their uses, their side effects, and their overall results. Let’s begin!
What is an Echocardiogram?
Sometimes called an echo, an echocardiogram is a procedure in which sound waves are used to develop moving pictures of the heart. During an echocardiogram, the patient and the doctor are able to see moving 2D images of the heart from a variety of different angles. Because of this, they are able to detect any issues which might exist.
From the patient’s point of view, the procedure is a fairly simple one. First, he or she will have a gel applied to the skin on the area around the heart. Once this gel has been applied, the technician will place a transducer wand on top of it.
After the wand has been placed, it will likely be moved around until it’s developing images of the desired area. During the entirety of the procedure, the patient will be able to see the images on a screen.
In many cases, the technician will tell the patient about what is being seen during the echo. However, this is not always the case. In any case, after the echo has ended, the patient will be supplied with a full explanation of the results.
When is an Echocardiogram Needed?
In most cases, echocardiograms are used as a means of preventative care. In other words, they are used to inspect the state of the heart to ascertain as to whether or not it requires any repair.
However, it’s not exclusively used as a means of preventative care. For instance, if you have an existing heart condition, you might undergo echocardiograms in order to determine whether it’s getting worse or better.
Some of the conditions that can be spotted and monitored with the use of an echocardiogram include mitral valve prolapses, arrhythmia, atrial septal defect, and aortic coarctation.
Preparing for an Echocardiogram
While echocardiograms are important procedures, they don’t require a great deal of preparation. Nonetheless, those who are getting ready to undergo echos generally have a few questions to ask. Some of the most important of these questions include the following.
How Long Does an Echocardiogram Test Take?
Because they’re non-invasive, echocardiograms can usually be completed in an hour or less. In fact, the procedure generally won’t take any longer than 15 minutes.
Note, however, that echocardiograms are typically just one component included in a full doctor visit. The full appointment associated with an echocardiogram will usually be around an hour long.
What Should You Wear to the Echo?
It doesn’t matter what you wear to your echocardiogram. In some cases, you will be dressed in a hospital gown. In other cases, you will simply need to remove your shirt before the procedure has begun.
Are There Any Food Restrictions Associated With an Echocardiogram?
In general, there are no food restrictions associated with an echocardiogram. The foods you eat in temporal proximity to the exam will not affect the quality of the images produced during the exam.
Note, however, that depending on the specific reason for your echocardiogram, you might be asked to refrain from eating specific foods. If so, your doctor will alert you to what these foods are.
Understanding Echocardiogram Results
Unless you’ve taken echocardiography training courses, you will have a hard time understanding what you’re seeing in your echo. This is why, once your echo has been completed, your doctor will include all of your results in a consolidated report. This report will likely be given to you the day following the procedure.
The report will contain a variety of notes and measurements, including, but not limited to your heart rate, your heart size, your heart thickness, the state of your heart’s valves, the existence of any blood clots, and the existence of any congenital defects.
In all likelihood, your doctor will take the time to explain your results to you at length. This will not only help you to understand whether or not you have any heart issues, but it will also help you to understand what proper treatment entails. If a serious condition is spotted, your doctor will also discuss future measurements which will need to be taken.
Heart Ultrasound Side Effects
As far as heart ultrasounds go, there are no notable side effects. These procedures are performed non-invasively and without the use of medications.
The most discomfort you will feel during the procedure is a slight physical irritation while the transducer wand is being rubbed on the area around your sternum. This irritation is minimal, to say the most, and will subside immediately once the procedure has ended.
Limitations of an Echocardiogram
While echocardiograms can provide patients and doctors with a lot of useful information, they do have their limitations.
First, it should be noted that coronary arteries cannot be seen during an echo. Therefore, it’s impossible for an echo to detect arterial blockages.
You should also know that certain conditions can make it difficult for echos to produce clear images. For instance, if a patient has a thick chest, images might not include the detail that’s needed or desired.
Find Information of All Kinds
If you want to stay up to date on the state of your heart, you’re advised to undergo a heart ultrasound on a regular basis. Doing so will help you to catch problems early in their existence, allowing you to treat them in a timely manner.
Looking for more useful information? If so, you can find it right here at Easyworknet.com. Our website has information of all kinds, including educational information, marketing information, and technology information.
Take a look at some more of our technology-related articles now!