Echocardiograms are a type of non-invasive test that uses sound waves to determine and diagnose various heart diseases and conditions. Knowing why a cardiologist appointment should be made for the test can help quickly diagnose and treat any potential heart conditions. Here is a list of reasons why a cardiologist would need to perform an echocardiogram.
Certain cardiovascular issues, such as a stroke, heart attack and heart disease, can prompt a cardiologist to perform an echocardiogram to see how well the heart is working. The test can determine the strength of the heart muscles. Blocked and narrowed blood vessels in the heart muscle cause decreased blood flow to the heart, which is a sign of coronary heart disease. An echo can also reveal if there are tumors or blood clots in the heart, which can be the reason for a stroke. The test is also used to detect damage from a heart attack, which can weaken heart muscles.
Certain symptoms can be concerning and warrant getting the test done. Shortness of breath, chest pain and heaviness, frequent indigestion, fatigue, dizziness and swelling in the legs and ankles are the most common symptoms of a cardiac issue, including heart failure. Heart failure is when the heart is unable to pump enough blood. An echocardiogram is used to determine how well the heart is able to pump blood.
Heart structure issues
An echo is able to expose issues within the heart’s structure. This includes congenital heart defects, which are structural defects that a person has when they are born, such as a hole in the heart. It is common for an echo to be done on babies and young children due to the detection of a congenital heart defect during a routine examination.
Heart valve issues
Echocardiograms are able to give a visual of how well the heart valves are working. It is common for a primary care physician to hear a heart murmur during a physical exam, which is an abnormal whooshing sound as blood flows through the heart. These can be due to a defect present at birth such as an abnormal valve or a damaged heart valve. Other heart valve issues that would need an echo and an evaluation by a cardiologist would be mitral regurgitation, aortic stenosis and mitral valve prolapse.
Frequently abnormal heartbeats, such as with tachycardia or palpitations, will often require an echo. Tachycardia is a rapid resting heart rate above 100. If it goes untreated it can lead to stroke, heart failure and cardiac arrest. Palpitations are a sensation of the heart fluttering and skipping a beat. Both can be caused by anxiety and stress but in rarer cases could be related to serious heart conditions.
There are a variety of heart diseases, disorders and conditions that would require visiting cardiologist to have an echocardiogram. The test is painless and non-invasive, and it can be used to monitor, diagnose and treat many conditions.
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