An echocardiogram is one of the simplest medical tests to undergo, yet one of the most important if you have cardiovascular issues. This noninvasive tool helps the doctors at St. Louis Heart and Vascular diagnose potential problems in order to intervene as early as possible to head off potential complications. And they’re equipped to perform your echocardiogram right in their offices. To learn more, call one of the six locations in St. Louis, Des Peres, St. Charles, and Bridgeton, Missouri, and Granite City, Illinois.

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Echocardiogram Q&A

What is an echocardiogram?

In the simplest of terms, an echocardiogram is a tool that your doctor uses to see how your heart is functioning. The echocardiogram is sometimes called a cardiac ultrasound because it uses sound waves to produce images of your heart in action, allowing your doctor to check the function of your heart in real-time.

This diagnostic tool is critical to heart specialists, which is why St. Louis Heart and Vascular is equipped with the ability to do echocardiograms in their offices, meaning patients don’t need to go elsewhere for testing.

What happens during an echocardiogram?

Before your echocardiogram, your doctor places electrodes around your chest to record the electrical activity of your heart.

Once you’re hooked up, the doctor simply uses a transducer to send sound waves out, which bounce back and form an image on a monitor. Your doctor may also inject a dye into your bloodstream to create contrast so they can see your heart better.

If your doctor isn’t able to get a clear picture, they may decide to perform a transesophageal echocardiogram, where they thread the transducer down your throat for a closer look at your heart. For this test, they give you a sedative first.

What can an echocardiogram detect?

As diagnostic tools go, the echocardiogram is one of the most valuable at St. Louis Heart and Vascular because it allows your doctor to get a glimpse at what’s going on inside your chest.

If you’re feeling symptoms like shortness of breath or fatigue, one of the first tests your doctor turns to is an echocardiogram. The resulting images from this test can show:

  • The size of your heart
  • The pumping strength of your heart
  • Any damage to your heart
  • How your heart valves are functioning
  • How blood is flowing through your heart
  • If there’s any fluid around your heart

Armed with this valuable information, your doctor can then zero in on the cause of your problem and recommend the appropriate treatment. Or your cardiologist may find something that warrants further investigation, in which case they’ll discuss the next steps with you.

If you’d like to explore how an echocardiogram can help you, call St. Louis Heart and Vascular for more information.