Echocardiography: Safety And Diagnostic Benefits

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If you experience cardiac symptoms, your physician may perform an EKG, or electrocardiogram. If the results of your EKG are inconclusive, or if they reveal abnormalities, then your primary care physician may refer you to a cardiologist for further testing and treatment. The cardiologist may recommend echocardiography, a diagnostic imaging test that can uncover heart disorders that the EKG is unable to diagnose. Here are some diagnostic benefits of echocardiography and why this type of medical imaging is considered very safe. 

Safety Of Echocardiography

The echocardiography test is considered very safe, even for babies. There is no preparation needed prior to the test and no limitations on what you can do following your test. It requires no pre-procedure medications nor does it require fasting prior to the start of the test.

Unlike many common imaging medical tests such as x-rays, echocardiography does not use ionizing radiation in order to capture real-time pictures of your cardiovascular system. Instead, it uses sound waves. The sound waves bounce off of the internal organs and other structures to generate the images. It is also a non-invasive test, unlike other cardiovascular tests such as the cardiac catheterization test which requires an incision so that a catheter can be advanced into the femoral artery. 

Diagnostic Benefits Of Echocardiography

If you develop any unusual cardiac symptoms, then the echocardiogram may help your physician uncover a diagnosis. For example, if you develop conditions known as tachycardia, which refers to a rapid heartbeat, or bradycardia, which is otherwise known as a slow heartbeat, the echocardiogram can help the doctor evaluate the problem. The test not only captures real-time images of how fast or slow your heart is pumping but can also reveal if your heart's rhythm is erratic. An erratic heart rhythm is called an arrhythmia, and while some arrhythmias are benign, others are life-threatening.

Another diagnostic benefit of an echocardiogram is its ability to help your doctor detect heart valve problems. A common cardiac disorder known as mitral valve prolapse refers to a condition where the mitral valve does close properly. While not considered a life-threatening condition, mitral valve prolapse can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate. 

If you are concerned about your heart health, make an appointment with your doctor. If warranted, they will refer you to a cardiologist for further testing which may include an echocardiogram and stress testing. A stress test evaluates cardiovascular health by having the individual walk on a treadmill while connected to a cardiac monitor. 

For more information, contact a cardiologist office such as Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology near you.