Echocardiograms & Stress Echocardiograms

ECHOCARDIOGRAMS

Looking after and taking care of your cardiovascular health is essential to maximize your quality of life. When evaluating your cardiovascular health there are two procedures that are among the most effective in determining how healthy your heart and cardiovascular system is. These exams are known as the echocardiogram and the stress echocardiogram. Both of these tests are designed to ensure that your heart and blood vessels are functioning properly and to detect any issues that may be present before its too late.

The main reason why an echocardiogram is done is to look for any problems that may be present with your heart. This test is administered by a cardiologist and when and if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing. With this test, a healthcare provider can determine how the blood flows throughout the vales and chambers of the heart according to The Mayo Clinic.

Echocardiogram
With an echocardiogram, patients and physicians can more efficiently evaluate the condition of the heart and find out if there are any problems with the cardiovascular system. There are other names for the echocardiogram such as a heart ultrasound and a heart sonogram. An echocardiogram is done for a number of different reasons including to evaluate your overall health. These tests can be done while you are sitting or lying down at a physician’s office or while you are pregnant or exercising.

Types
Today there are a few different types of echocardiograms. One of the most common type is the transthoracic echocardiogram or the TTE. This is the standard version of the test and the one that most physicians use when evaluating patients. With this particular type of echocardiogram, patients get a noninvasive ultrasound of their heart as well as a monitoring of the blood flow throughout the blood vessels and heart valves. With this option, healthcare providers can get clear pictures of the heart.

Another type of echocardiogram is the transesophageal echocardiogram or the TEE. This option is used if the standard echocardiogram is unable to provide the details necessary to make a proper diagnosis and evaluation of the heart. This version of the test gives healthcare providers a more detailed look at the main artery known as the aorta. With this option a cardiologist can examine the aortic valve from inside the body.

The third type of echocardiogram is the fetal echocardiogram which is used to evaluate the heart of a baby during a pregnancy. As a noninvasive test, the fetal echocardiogram uses an ultrasound of the pregnant woman’s belly and evaluates the heart of an unborn baby without the use of any x rays or surgery.

Stress Echocardiogram
Along with the echocardiogram, the stress echocardiogram is another test that is used to evaluate the health and condition of the heart. This test is done right after a person finishes exercising. With this particular test, a physician can evaluate how the heart responds to physical activity. In most cases, this particular test is requested by a doctor if they suspect that a patient has a condition known as coronary artery disease. For those who are unable to exercise, a medication is given in order to put stress on the heart to complete this test.

Why Test is Performed
According to Medline Plus a stress echocardiogram is performed for a variety of reasons. The main reason is to find out if the heart gets enough blood flow and oxygen whenever it is under stress. There are some other reasons why the test is made. A physician may order this test if they suspect a patient experiences chest pain, have recently had a heart attack and if they have problems with the heart valve.

How Test is Done
When getting a stress echocardiogram, a physician will have the patient life on their left side with the left arm being stretched out. They will also have a small device called a transducer in order to monitor the heart. A physician will place this against your chest as well as using a gel in order to get an accurate ultrasound. If you are getting a regular echocardiogram, you will just sit or lie down during the entire test. However, with the stress echocardiogram, you will be asked to run or walk on a treadmill for at least 5 minutes. After the test is completed, a patient will then be evaluated based on the results of this test.

What Test Results Mean
After getting either an echocardiogram or a stress echocardiogram, the final step of the process is to assess your results. According to medical experts, normal results will reveal that you are able to exercise for a longer period of time than most other people based on your age and gender. Normal results will also reveal that you did not have any symptoms such as a change in blood pressure. It will also reveal that all of the parts of your heart pump harder when responding to more stress.

If a patient has abnormal results, it is because the test detected a reduction of blood flow to any part of the heart. The most likely cause of this is either a blockage or narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the heart. There may also be scarring of the heart due to a heart attack as well.

Anyone who wants to evaluate and monitor their cardiovascular health should look into getting an echocardiogram or stress echocardiogram on a regular basis. This will ensure that your heart is healthy and that you can detect heart problems before it is too late. To schedule an appointment with cardiologist Dr. Tiffany Di Pietro in Fort Lauderdale contact us today.

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