Blog Post

What Is an Echocardiogram Used To Diagnose?

Doctor talking to patient

An echocardiogram, commonly referred to as an echo test or cardiac ultrasound, is a radiation-free, non-invasive ultrasound exam used to evaluate the heart’s size, shape and function, and how efficiently blood is moving through the heart’s chamber and valves. An echo exam uses a small, hand-held transducer wand to bounce high frequency sound waves off the heart and its related structures, creating echoes that transform into real-time video on a computer screen. It shows a live movie of your heart and valves as they work, and records it digitally for quick distribution to members of your healthcare team.

What an Echocardiogram Can Detect

Being able to evaluate the heart’s chambers and valves, as well as the direction and speed of blood flow, enables your care team to diagnose and monitor a wide range of heart conditions, including:

  • Heart valve problems, such as narrowing (stenosis), leakage (regurgitation), or prolapse
  • Heart muscle issues, including cardiomyopathy, previous heart attack, or heart failure
  • Pericardial disease (fluid or inflammation around the heart)
  • Infection
  • Heart murmurs
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Blood clots or tumors

How Is an Echocardiogram Performed?

While some echo tests vary slightly, most are performed as follows:

You’ll lie back on a padded examination table, and electrodes will be attached to your chest to monitor your heart rate.

A clear gel is applied to your chest to help the transducer capture fine images as it glides back and forth over the skin to obtain different views of your heart from various angles.

What Are the Benefits of an Echocardiogram?

Foremost, an echocardiogram can detect early signs of heart disease, before symptoms appear. It can also identify and monitor:

  • Improper contraction of damage to the heart muscle
  • Heart valve problems that, left untreated, may lead to serious complications ● When the heart’s pumping ability has been compromised, which may be a sign of early heart failure or another critical problem
  • Abnormal blood flow within the heart and blood vessels, which can indicate coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of heart attack

Obviously, discovering conditions like valve narrowing or CAD before they can have a chance to cause a heart attack or other serious consequence is monumental. Through early detection of coronary diseases and disorders, echocardiography promotes timely treatment and management strategies, for the best chance of halting the progression of problematic conditions and reducing the risk of complications.

Advanced Echocardiogram Testing Near You

If your clinician determines that an echocardiogram test might be right for you, then schedule a visit to Radiology Associates of Orange Park, a Community Imaging Alliance location. With over 60 years of medical imaging experience, our team of highly trained radiologists offer world class imaging as well as outstanding diagnostic and interventional care at our state-of-the-art, ACR-accredited facility in Orange Park, Florida. No matter the test or procedure, we are always dedicated to providing our patients with comfortable convenience and quality service. To learn more, contact us today.