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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram or “echo” is a type of ultrasound scan used for detecting abnormalities in the heart and blood vessels. Like many other ultrasound scans, echocardiograms use high-frequency sound waves which bounce off differently when hitting different parts of the body. In this case, sound waves will bounce or “echo” the heart and vessel structure and process in the computer to make animated images of the heart and nearby blood vessels. 

The echocardiogram can show lots of heart conditions including the size and shape of the heart, size, thickness, and movement of the heart’s wall, heart’s movement during heartbeats, heart’s pump strength, condition of heart valves, and any tumours, infectious growth or abnormal holes in the heart. Echocardiograms can also see problems in the pericardium, blood vessels running in and out from the heart, and blood clots in the chambers of your heart.

Echocardiograms are typically painless and non-invasive, making them a safe and effective way to diagnose and monitor heart conditions. They are often used in conjunction with other tests, such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) and chest X-rays, to provide a complete picture of the heart’s health.

Types of an echocardiogram?

Currently, there are two major types of echocardiograms. The most frequently used is Transthoracic echocardiogram or TTE, a procedure being done with an ultrasound probe, sending and receiving ultrasound waves bouncing off your heart with an aid of gel to help waves pass through your skin. A transthoracic echocardiogram is mostly done in combination with Electrocardiogram or ECG, using a sticky sensor attached to the chest to monitor heart rhythm. 

Some patients, including patients suspected to suffer from infective endocarditis, acute dissection, or mitral valve disease, may need to do an echocardiogram through the oesophagus, this method is called a Transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE. It is being done using an ultrasound probe through the oesophagus, being done under local anaesthetic and sedative. 

Both Transthoracic and Transesophageal echocardiograms can be done in combination with special techniques such as Doppler techniques to measure the speed and direction of blood flow, or using contrast agents which will affect the reflectivity of ultrasound waves. 

Another type of echocardiogram is Stress echocardiogram. It is the same as a Transthoracic echocardiogram but is done during or just after the heart is working hard by exercise or an injection of medication. A stress echocardiogram is mostly done in case the heart problem is triggered by intensive activities. 

When do you need an echocardiogram?

The echocardiogram is a non-invasive procedure and carries little or no risk. Thus, doctors will request an echocardiogram in case the suspect of 

  • Atherosclerosis: A gradual clogging of the arteries by fat and other substances in the bloodstream. 
  • Cardiomyopathy:  An enlargement of the heart due to thick or weak heart muscle
  • Congenital heart disease: Defects in one or more heart structures that occur during the formation of the fetus
  • Heart failure: A condition in which the heart muscle has become weakened or stiff during heart relaxation and blood can’t be pumped efficiently.
  • Aneurysm: A widening and weakening of a part of the heart muscle or the aorta 
  • Heart valve disease: Malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may cause an abnormality of the blood flow within the heart, including narrowing, leaky, or infection 
  • Cardiac tumour: A tumour of the heart that may occur on the outside surface of the heart, chambers of the heart, or within the myocardium.
  • Pericarditis: An inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart.
  • Pericardial effusion or tamponade. The sac around the heart is filled with fluid, blood, or infection. 
  • Atrial or septal wall defect: Irregular channels between the right and left sides of the heart.
  • Shunts: Atrial and ventricular septal defects or irregular blood flow is pushed through the circulation from the lungs and liver.

Echocardiogram at Phyathai 1 International

Heart Center of Phyathai 1 International is ready to provide an echocardiogram test, both standard and stress echocardiogram, by our cardiovascular specialist to give you accurate results within a rapid time. We are also available with a complete cardiovascular check-up package with electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, chest X-rays, ankle-brachial index, and blood test to ensure your cardiovascular health. 

In case of any abnormalities of heart and blood vessels, the Heart Center of Phyathai 1 International is equipped with advanced state-of-the-art equipment and staffed with our highly skilled Cardiovascular specialist to provide cardiovascular diagnosis, cardiovascular surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation.

For your next cardiovascular health check-up, please consult with our specialist Heart Center, open daily from 6 am to 8 pm. To ensure the fastest procedure time, We recommend taking a reservation  by phone at number (+66)2-201-4600 ext.2347-48 or by E-mail at [email protected].

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