In the UK, heart and circulatory diseases account for a quarter of all deaths. That’s more than 160,000 deaths each year. Particularly in the Northwest of England, such as Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington, premature death rates from heart and circulatory diseases are exceptionally high. This is even though almost 80% of premature heart disease deaths are preventable.
An echocardiogram test is a preventive measure against the early onset symptoms of heart disease. In addition, an echocardiogram gives accurate information on the heart’s pumping function over time, which can be used to detect heart disease. That is why it is a critical diagnostic tool for doctors and patients alike.
In this post, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about echocardiograms so you can make the right decisions for your health.
What is an Echocardiogram test?
An echocardiogram or ‘echo’ is a test that is used to conduct a non-invasive scan of the heart. It can build up a picture of the heart and nearby blood vessels. It is a type of ultrasound, similar to the kind used to scan for pregnancy. A small probe sends out a high-frequency soundwave that reflects or ‘echoes’ off different body parts. The probe then picks up echoes and uses them to generate a moving image on the monitor. The resulting images can inform doctors about:
- Changes in heart size
- Pumping strength
- Damage to the heart muscle
- Valve problems
- Heart defects
Types of Echocardiogram tests
- Transthoracic echocardiogram
- Transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE)
- Stress echocardiogram
- Contrast echocardiogram
What are Echocardiogram tests used for?
Assessing the results of an echocardiogram test can allow doctors to detect heart problems such as:
- Heart attack: An echocardiogram can show the areas of a heart that move weakly or have been receiving too little oxygen due to a heart attack. This is where the supply of blood to the heart was suddenly blocked and has subsequently been damaged.
- Heart failure: The echocardiogram shows the percentage of blood pumped out of a ventricle (one of two large chambers toward the bottom of the heart) and the volume of blood being pumped out. Heart failure can occur when your heart cannot pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure to meet your body’s needs.
- Congenital heart disease: Refers to birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart. An echocardiogram can show problems with the heart chamber, abnormal connections between the heart and major blood vessels, and complex heart defects that affect the valves that control blood flow within the heart.
- Cardiomyopathy: This is used to describe the condition when the walls of the heart have become thickened or enlarged. This can happen due to weakened or damaged heart valves, high blood pressure or other related diseases. An echocardiogram is used in this case to track changes in heart size which might indicate Cardiomyopathy.
- Endocarditis: This is an infection of the heart valves, which can cause abnormal growth on the heart and inflammation of the inner lining of your heart’s chambers and valves (endocardium), which in turn, can cause them to leak. An echocardiogram will help your doctor determine if your heart valves open wide enough for adequate blood flow and close fully enough to prevent blood leakage.
Suppose you are scheduled for a test or think you might need an echocardiogram test in Manchester or the Northwest in that case, Venturi Cardiology has a team of private cardiologists who can walk you through booking a test and getting the right treatment. We have a comprehensive list of services to ensure you get the right diagnosis and get treated fast.