An Echocardiogram (Echo) is a commonly used diagnostic test which uses sound waves to assess the health of your heart. To the inexperienced patient, the name itself can be intimidating. Not to mention the fact that it sounds far too much like another diagnostic test: the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). If your cardiologist has asked you to have an Echo performed, these are the pieces of data you can expect to find.
The Size of Your Heart
An enlarged heart is a symptom of another condition ranging from high blood pressure or pregnancy to problems with the heart valves or anemia. Unfortunately, an enlarged heart can be very dangerous and may cause heart failure, blood clots, or even cardiac arrest. After your Echocardiogram provides results of an enlarged heart your cardiologist will work with you to come up with a plan to treat the issue causing this particular symptom.

The Strength Of Your Heart Muscles
Often patients who have previous damage to their heart from a heart attack or heart disease end up with cardiac muscles that are weakened and not properly pumping blood and vital oxygen to the rest of the body. These weakened muscles can be seen using an Echo.

The Functioning of Your Heart Valves
Heart valves that don’t open or close properly can disrupt the amount of blood that is circulated throughout your body. A common occurrence of this is called the heart murmur, which refers to the sound the heart makes when the valves don’t close properly and blood is leaked back into the heart instead of forward as it should. Your cardiologist might order an Echocardiogram if she hears a murmur through the stethoscope or if you have other symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or swollen ankles.

Blood Clots Or Tumors
Patients who have already suffered a stroke may be given an Echo to determine where the blockage is that caused the stroke. Additionally, the test will show existing tumors in the heart. Often patients don’t realize they have cardiac tumors until the Echocardiogram test is used for another reason like a heart attack or stroke.

Cardiologists have a battery of tests at their disposal to assess their patient’s heart health. The Echo is one very commonly used test which provides a clear picture of the structure of the patient’s heart and what is occurring inside the chest. If you have a family history of heart disease or are concerned about how your lifestyle is affecting your heart health and are not already under cardiac care, contact us today.