Ultrasound imaging technology has long enhanced the abilities of doctors to screen and diagnose conditions in many parts of the body, particularly during pregnancy. Now, use of ultrasound screening for heart disease in asymptomatic patients is an idea because of the ease, safety and cost of the testing.
A cardiac ultrasound examination is called an echocardiogram. This is safe, non-invasive procedure used to examine the heart and potentially diagnose problems. It uses high-frequency sound waves to examine all four chambers, the heart valves, the blood vessels entering and leaving the heart, as well as the sack around the heart.
Unlike other cardiac imaging tools such as CT scans, the use of ultrasound is safer, because it does not use radiation. Therefore, ultrasound testing does not present a long-term health risk for cancer, as with some of the other tests. It is relatively inexpensive and non-invasive.
There are many reasons that your physician may request that you have an echocardiography examination. Physicians use echocardiography to look for abnormalities in the large physical structures of the heart, including the heart chambers and valves. An echocardiogram may also be used to look for the cause of an abnormal heart sound, to check the size of the heart chambers, to check for fluid around the heart, or to inspect the jumping capability of the heart if a patient is short of breath or has complained of certain symptoms during exertion.
“Doppler echocardiography” is a form of cardiac ultrasound that can measure variations in different parts of the heart. For example, it can detect any abnormal blow of blood next to a damaged valve. It can assess how well the heart valves are working. “Stress echocardiography” is done to see how the heart responds to “stress” such as exercise.
The information gained from the echocardiogram allows the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that is best for the patient. Nowadays portable ultrasound machines are widely used to perform ultrasound.