Sometimes we need a stress echocardiogram, to exclude blocked arteries potentially leading to a heart attack, or transesophageal echocardiogram to assess better the functionality of the valves or if there are clots inside the heart.
The echocardiogram usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
An echocardiogram is a device which, through ultrasound waves generated by a probe, allow us to visualise the heart structure, by taking pictures of its different components which are muscle, valves and chambers.We are able to assess:The overall heart size and its chambers, which can became larger.Its function and ability to contract, which can become impaired.The flow across the valves, which can start leaking or become narrow. Indirectly coronary artery disease or blocked arteries which have caused a previous or recent heart attack.Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle which could be dilated, weak or could be hypertrophic, which means thicker.Endocarditis, which is an infection in the valves and sometimes is followed by a transoesophageal echocardiogram which is more accurate.Fluid around the heart, which is called pericardial effusion, usually due to an infection or secondary to cancer or low thyroid function.
It could be sign of a valve leakage or narrowing or a weak heart muscle or blocked arteries not supplying enough blood to your heart muscle.Chest painIt could be sign of blocked arteries, or a clot in your lungs or inflammation of the layer around your heart.PalpitationsThey could be signs of structural diseases of your heart muscle or valves.Loss of consciousnessIt could be indicative of obstruction of the blood flow leaving the heart and going to your brain, due to a heart valve narrowing.After a stroke, you should exclude clots originating from the heart, which could have migrated to the brain, or holes in the heart.Prior to major surgery if you had already heart problems in the past, in order to make sure that the heart muscle is contracting well and is able to cope with the general anaesthesia.