Your heart is one of the most vital organs in keeping us alive. Because of this, it’s important that we all focus on heart health. Part of maintaining a healthy heart is monitoring its function and knowing if there are any functional or structural issues. At Champion Heart and Vascular Center, we can perform an echo procedure, or echocardiogram, to produce pictures of your heart at work. How does this work? An echo procedure is a safe and painless procedure that uses ultrasound waves. We’ll use these images to assess the state of your heart and gain an understanding of its current state. There are many things that we can learn from these images, but we’ve included just three below.
Weakened heart muscles
An echo procedure can help to identify weakened heart muscles that are likely caused by blocked blood flow, which is known as ischemic cardiomyopathy. Signs that you might have some form of cardiomyopathy include shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid retention. Cardiomyopathy might be the result of damage sustained from a heart attack or not receiving enough oxygen.
There are a number of heart defects that you can be born with called congenital heart defects. Even the most common among these defects can range from very mild to severe and life-threatening.
Ventricular septal defect, or a hole in the middle of the heart, is the most common and affects between two and seven percent of all live births and is the diagnosis in nearly 20 percent of all congenital heart defects. A physician can monitor this condition, but surgery can be performed to close the hole.
A heart defect that can ultimately lead to a more severe condition is aortic valve stenosis. This occurs when the aortic valve is either too small or part of the structural leaflets is fused. This means that the valve causes an obstruction or doesn’t close all the way and allows blood to leak into the heart. This leads to increased stress on the heart and can thicken the muscles.
Conditions like these are typically diagnosed early in life using an echo procedure. However, they can still go undiagnosed at a young age and your physician can catch them now to provide proper treatment.
Like any other muscle in your body, your heart will grow if it has to work harder than normal. Conditions like high blood pressure and coronary artery disease can lead to damaged heart muscles, which will then make your heart grow. This is a condition called cardiomegaly, or an enlarged heart.
While it might seem like larger heart muscles are a good thing that would make it more efficient, this is definitely not the case. An enlarged heart can still function at a normal rate for a time, but its pumping ability will eventually decline. This decline in heart function happens at different rates based on the type of enlarged heart.
The main type of enlarged heart is called dilated cardiomyopathy, which is where the ventricles (the lower chambers in your heart) become thin and stretched. The other type is when the ventricles grow and thicken, this is known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. As you can imagine, your heart will function better for longer if the ventricles are thicker, but this can still lead to congestive heart failure.
Identifying an enlarged heart early with an echo procedure can help your physician prescribe treatment. Possible treatment methods can include but are not limited to treating hypertension, diuretics, or procedures like implanting a cardioverter-defibrillator, which will start your heart again if it stops.
Schedule an echo procedure
Contact Champion Heart and Vascular Center today to schedule your echo procedure. We’re proud to serve the Dunn and Henderson, NC areas with rates that are 50 percent cheaper than what you’ll get at a hospital. Our physicians are experts in the cardiology field and will help you get on the path to better heart health.