An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your heart. This is a safe procedure that uses sound waves to take pictures of your heart. It is the same technology that is used when taking pictures of a baby during pregnancy. When you come for an echocardiogram, you will be explained the procedure in detail. Essentially, you will lie down on you left side and some gel will be placed on your chest. Then an ultrasound probe (a wand) will be placed on your chest which will send ultrasound waves that will bounce back from your heart to form an image. This is 100% non-invasive and safe.
With echocardiogram images, we can learn a number of things about your heart that can help diagnose and treat heart problems promptly.
-left ventricular hypertrophy: the main chamber of the hear that pumps blood to the rest of the body gets thickened. There are a number of causes for this but most common is elevated blood pressure.
-left ventricle dilation: the main chamber of the heart gets dilated (walls get thinned and the volume inside the chamber increases)
-right ventricular enlargement: the right side of the heart gets bigger from a number of causes (such a clot in lung, increased pressure in left side of the heart, increased pressure in lungs).
-left or right atrial enlargement – the top chambers of the heart get bigger. This can occur from leaking or tight valves in the heart.
-myocardial infarction: oftentimes, we can see an area of the heart not moving well which may well be from a heart attack.
-infective endocarditis: this is infection of the heart tissue or the valves of the heart.
-atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects.
We can see issues with the valves of the heart (valves are essentially doors that help control blood flow):
-bicuspid aortic valve
-mitral valve prolapse
-rheumatic valve disease
The advantage of the Stat! Cardiologist is that we utilize only the highest quality equipment that gives very detailed pictures. This lowers the chances that an important diagnosis would be missed. Equipment in many facilities (even well-known hospitals) is often outdated and upgrades are slowed down by bureaucracy. For instance, a typical hospital in Park Ridge, IL or Chicago, IL may not get a new machine for nearly 15-20 years. There are offices that record images still on video tape! All of our equipment is fully digitized and networked for prompt reading and retrievability. Our equipment has 3d/4d capability. We can do strain imaging as well. Most of the equipment at even major hospitals may lack those features.