If you’ve recently started experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, chest pain, or other symptoms that may indicate an underlying cardiovascular condition, receiving an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible is the best way to get the treatment you need. At Heart Vascular and Leg Center in Bakersfield, California, board-certified cardiologist Vinod Kumar MD, FACC, and his team use a variety of diagnostic techniques, including echocardiograms, to help identify a wide range of heart conditions. To learn more, call the office or book your appointment online today.
A cardiac ultrasound exam, or echocardiogram, is a painless diagnostic test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. Besides revealing the size and shape of your heart, these pictures also show how well your heart’s valves and chambers work.
An echocardiogram can help your provider observe areas of your heart muscle that don’t contract well. It can also be used to detect blood clots in your heart, fluid build-up, and problems with your aorta.
An echocardiogram may be used to diagnose:
If you have undiagnosed or untreated heart problems, you should schedule an echocardiogram at Heart Vascular and Leg Center.
To conduct an echocardiogram, your provider places three small, flat, sticky patches called electrodes at various points on your chest.
The electrodes are connected to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that registers your heart’s electrical activity throughout the exam.
After you lie down on your left side, the sonographer will place an instrument called an ultrasound transducer on various areas of your chest and abdomen.
The tip of the wand is coated with a small amount of skin-safe gel to help facilitate clearer pictures. You may be asked to change positions a few times during the exam to help the sonographer get a complete range of images covering different areas of your heart.
Besides the slight pressure you may feel as the transducer passes over various areas, an echocardiogram is a relatively comfortable procedure.
Some cardiovascular problems, such as coronary heart disease, are much easier to diagnose when your heart is working harder than normal, and your heart rate is elevated.
During a standard stress test, you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike to make your heart work harder.
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from exercising during a stress test, you may receive a medication that makes your heart work harder temporarily. This type of test is known as a pharmacological stress test.
A stress echocardiogram is designed to capture moving images of your heart when it’s working harder than usual. It’s one of the best ways to see how your heart’s chambers and valves function under stress, as well as whether you have any areas of weak or dead heart muscle tissue that no longer contract properly.
If you’re scheduled to have a standard echocardiogram without a stress test, you may be able to eat and drink as you normally would in the hours leading up to your appointment.
However, if you’re scheduled to undergo a stress echocardiogram, you may need to avoid caffeine for 24 hours and fast for a short time before your appointment. Your provider will give you a complete list of pre-exam instructions to help ensure the most accurate results.
To learn more about cardiovascular diagnostic testing, call Heart Vascular and Leg Center, or book an appointment online today.