Echocardiography is a healthcare procedure that uses ultrasound to view the heart and surrounding cardiovascular system for damage and abnormal function. The ultrasound images, called echocardiograms, show blood flow through heart valves, chambers, and blood vessels. Healthcare specialists place probes on the patient’s chest (transthoracic) or down the patient’s esophagus (transesophageal) to take the echocardiograms. Ultrasound pictures can be enhanced by using intravenous injections to improve the distinction between tissue and blood. The echocardiography stress test is a common test using (transthoracic) echocardiograms to assess if the heart receives adequate oxygen from blood flow.
Candidates for Echocardiography
Patients who suffer from problems such as blood flow blockage, abnormal heart contractions, leaky heart valves, or inflammation of the heart lining are candidates for echocardiography diagnosis. Those who have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease use echocardiography to monitor their condition. Cardiologists and cardiac sonographers are the healthcare providers who determine if the non-evasive transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) or the invasive transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) procedure is most appropriate for the patient Both echocardiography procedures are relatively painless and safe; however, TEE requires sedation or local anesthetic to alleviate the gag reflex as the probe is slid down the patient’s throat.
Echocardiography Stress Test Procedure
Preparation for the echocardiography stress test begins about three hours prior to the test. The patient refrains from eating or taking normal medication that may alter the heart performance (if advised by the healthcare provider). Probes are attached to the outer surface of the patient’s chest wall and an initial echocardiogram is taken. The patient raises his or her heartbeat to a specified rate either by exercising or taking medication. During this stage, ultrasound images are taken and heart rhythm and blood pressure are monitored. When the patient has reached the target heart rate, a final echocardiogram is taken. The results are assessed by a healthcare specialist.