Echocardiogram is a diagnostic procedure using high frequency sound waves, called ultrasound to take moving pictures of the heart and its related structures (e.g. valves). From these pictures, we can measure the size of the heart chambers, study the motion of heart valves, assess the efficacy of the contraction of the heart muscle and evaluate the blood flow pattern across the valves and within the heart chambers. These information and pictures are helpful for your doctor in determining how well your heart is working and whether there are abnormalities.
Why is it done?
Echocardiography is used to diagnose certain cardiovascular diseases. In fact, it is one of the most widely used diagnostic tests for heart disease. It can provide a wealth of helpful information, including the size and shape of the heart, its pumping strength, and the location and extent of any damage to its tissues. It is especially useful for assessing diseases of the heart valves. It not only allows doctors to evaluate the heart valves, but it can detect abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow, such as the backward flow of blood through partly closed heart valves, known as regurgitation.
By assessing the motion of the heart wall, echocardiography can help detect the presence and assess the severity of coronary artery disease, as well as help determine whether any chest pain is related to heart disease. Echocardiography can also help detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the walls of the heart thicken in an attempt to compensate for heart muscle weakness. The biggest advantage of echocardiography is that it is non-invasive (does not involve breaking the skin or entering body cavities) and has no known risks or side effects.
What do I need to prepare for the test?
No preparations are required, unless otherwise informed.