The Use of Ultrasound When Diagnosing Heart Disease
Heart ultrasounds and sonograms are steadily increasing and will continue to do so to aid medical or surgical treatments. Ultrasound imaging is one of the most popular diagnosing technologies due to its accuracy, accessibility, safety, and cost-efficiency. Unsurprisingly, it is the preferred diagnostic test for many severe medical conditions.
Looking at a heart’s structure may require some professional insight. Patients may know that healthy blood pressure is essential, as is strengthening heart muscle. Sometimes, however, doctors need to use ultrasound waves to look at valves, blood vessels, arteries, and veins.
Significance Of A Heart Sonogram And Ultrasound Diagnosis
Traditional risk prediction models are pretty ineffective in predicting heart attack risk. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, up to 70 percent of people with heart attacks are put in the low or intermediate-risk category for a heart attack when doctors use traditional risk prediction models.
Furthermore, while cardiovascular tests are available for diagnosing heart diseases, these are invasive, unlike ultrasound testing. Moreover, cardiovascular tests are difficult to perform and expensive compared to ultrasound.
Detecting Serious Heart Conditions
Innovations in ultrasound technology have made heart ultrasound machines extremely capable of detecting severe medical conditions like heart defects or angina as they provide clear three-dimensional images of the heart and blood vessels and their functioning in real time.
In addition, ultrasound testing is targeted and can be used to confirm suspected heart conditions. It is also safe, radiation-free, and cost and time-efficient. Most importantly, it eliminates invasive testing, saving the patient pain and discomfort.
Doppler ultrasound is highly effective as it can show the direction and speed of blood flow through ultrasonic sound waves as they echo off moving objects. It helps detect obstructions like blood clots and narrowed blood vessels. On the other hand, cardiac ultrasound imaging allows physicians to see problems related to heart function and valves.
Furthermore, duplex ultrasound – a combination of advanced technology like Doppler and regular ultrasound – provides a clear view of veins and arteries to assess and calculate the speed of blood flow. In addition, duplex ultrasound is safe and devoid of radiation and contrast dyes and has become the preferred diagnostic test.
Cardiac Ultrasound Or Echocardiogram
Cardiac ultrasound is also called an echocardiogram, cardiac echo, or transthoracic echo (TTE). It uses ultrasonic waves that bounce off the heart to create a moving image of it. It lets physicians view the heart in motion, including the beating activity. An echocardiogram provides more detailed information and visualization than an X-ray image.
A cardiac echo allows physicians to view the heart’s anatomy from many different angles and observe the heart rhythm. It is the most effective way to visualize the function and movement of the heart and cardiac muscle valves. It’s best for detecting abnormalities related to the structure and function of the heart.
The echo test is paramount in detecting complex and severe heart conditions such as muscle problems. These problems include dilated cardiomyopathy or restrictive cardiomyopathy. It also helps see enlargement of the cardiac chambers, heart rhythm irregularities, and heart valve disease.
When Is A Heart Ultrasound Conducted?
The echocardiogram is a suitable screening test in several cases. These include evaluating high-risk patients devoid of symptoms and detecting structural abnormalities of the heart in suspected cases. Moreover, the echocardiogram is simple and requires no initial screening before the test.
A cardiac echo is typically recommended when patients have shortness of breath, fatigue, or fainting symptoms. Also, it may be recommended after an electrocardiogram test if it suggests the possibility of a structural heart problem. Since it is safe, radiation-free, and non-invasive, it can be conducted repeatedly over a prolonged period. You can use the echo to monitor the cardiac condition.
Purpose Of Echocardiogram
Cardiac echo is used to detect a range of heart conditions. We’ve compiled a brief list of heart ailments that can be seen via cardiac echo:
- Evaluate the overall function of the heart and detect various types of heart diseases
- Congenital heart conditions such as atrial septal defect and tetralogy of Fallot
- Heart valve irregularities such as mitral valve prolapse
- Monitor the progress of heart valve disease over a period
- Irregular heart rhythms such as cardiac arrhythmia
- Evaluate the effectiveness of cardiac treatments and surgeries
- Aortic stenosis can be detected by measuring impaired blood flow. In this case, Doppler measures blood speed in various areas of the heart.
An echocardiogram cannot show coronary arteries or blockages in the coronary arteries. Moreover, it can be ineffective in visualizing the heart in some biological variations. Therefore, cardiac catheterization has similar applications.
For example, a thick chest wall or emphysema can create barriers. A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), an invasive ultrasound, is performed at such times.
For example, a thick chest wall or emphysema can create barriers. At such times, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), which is an invasive ultrasound, is performed.
Types Of Echocardiograms
There are four types of echocardiograms to choose from based on the nature of the heart ailment.
- Transthoracic Echocardiogram is the most commonly performed echocardiogram and is typically conducted to detect heart damage and its extent. A hand-held transducer is placed on the chest and transmits high-frequency sound waves. These sound waves bounce off the heart structures to create images of the heart.
- Depending on the part of the heart being examined and the machine type, imaging can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. In rare cases, when the lungs or ribs interfere with the image clarity, a small amount of contrast is injected through an IV for a better view of the internal heart.
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE): This test is recommended when the transthoracic echocardiogram is unclear. It visualizes the heart structure more clearly, without interfering with the lungs and chest.
- A transducer is inserted into the esophagus – the food pipe that connects the mouth and stomach. The test detects many heart conditions like abnormal heart valves and rhythms, heart murmurs, congenital heart disease, pericarditis, pericardial effusion, infectious endocarditis, and pulmonary hypertension.
- Stress Echocardiogram: As the name suggests, a stress echocardiogram needs to happen when the patient is under physical stress. Therefore, this test is performed while the patient exercises, combined with an echocardiogram at rest. Then one implements an exercise to compare the two results in the end.
- This echocardiogram inspects the heart’s motion and pumping action when the heart is under stress. It is especially important in detecting a lack of moving blood cells. Other cardiac tests may not notice something like that.
- Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram: Another type of stress echocardiogram, dobutamine stress, differs from the stress echocardiogram. The former uses a drug instead of exercise to stimulate the heart.
- This test is typically used when the patient cannot exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. It is used to assess heart and valve function and the extent to which the heart can tolerate activity, based on which the possibility of coronary artery disease is evaluated.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is an ailment of the coronary artery, which feeds the heart. It is characterized by the hardening and thickening of the artery’s walls and plaque accumulation around the walls. The blockage obstructs flow, eventually causing a heart attack or stroke. The condition is called atherosclerosis.
CAD mainly does not produce symptoms. However, in a few cases, it is marked by symptoms such as shortness of breath with exertion, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations, decreased physical endurance, chest, arm, or jaw pain, and even indigestion. CAD can be treated more effectively if it is diagnosed early. Moreover, early treatment can help preempt complications and severe health consequences.
Maintaining Regular Blood Flows
However, the challenge in detecting CAD is that even with a partial blockage, the heart may still receive ample blood supply while at rest and hence, function normally. Therefore, the consequences are felt only under exercise when the heart is stressed.
Therefore, diagnostic tests like echocardiogram and angiogram are crucial as these can detect mild and early-stage CAD. Imaging tests help practitioners to examine the structure and function of the heart. They check for irregular rhythm, irregular heart muscle function, narrow blood vessels, and valve problems.
Diagnosis of CAD typically requires evidence of significant blockages in the coronary arteries. Diagnostic imaging is beneficial in diagnosing CAD. At times echocardiograms are conducted along with stress tests for evaluating CAD. In some cases, however, a combination of various tests, including blood tests and physical examination, is required.
Other Types of Heart Ultrasounds
A carotid ultrasound assesses the risk of stroke. Doctors examine the flow through the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck to detect stenosis. A transducer, gently pressed against the sides of the neck, creates images of the arteries.
Abdominal ultrasound helps screen abdominal aortic aneurysms. The transducer is pressed against the abdomen, creating imaging that allows examining blood moving through the abdominal aorta.
The use of heart ultrasound diagnosis will be more widespread with advancing ultrasound technology and changing ultrasound machine trends. Modern designs favor smaller, cheaper, and more accurate portable ultrasounds.
Refine your practice. Our National Ultrasound experts can help you select the suitable ultrasound machine for cardiology, vascular, and many other applications. They will evaluate your requirements and options to fit your needs at a great price.
Regulate Blood Flow And Heart Disease Better With National Ultrasound
If you need a machine that can handle heart ultrasounds, National Ultrasound can help. Find devices that monitor the heart’s electrical activity or blood pressure and diagnose accurately.
National Ultrasound will help you harness sound waves and modern technology to examine heart chambers better. Do you want to learn more about other tests and the best cardiac echo or Doppler ultrasound machines? Then reach out to us today.