What Is Echocardiograohy used for?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 17, 2013

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Echocardiography (echo) shows the size, structure, and movement of the various parts of your heart. This includes the valves, the septum (the wall separating the right and left heart chambers), and the walls of the heart chambers. Doppler ultrasound shows the movement of blood through the heart.

Echo can be used to:

  • Diagnose heart problems
  • Guide or determine next steps for treatment
  • Monitor changes and improvement
  • Determine the need for more tests

Echo can detect many heart problems. Some may be minor and pose no risk to you. Others can be signs of serious heart disease or other heart conditions. Your doctor may use echo to learn about:

  • The size of your heart. An enlarged heart can be the result of high blood pressure, leaky heart valves, or heart failure.
  • Heart muscles that are weak and aren't moving (pumping) properly. Weakened areas of heart muscle can be due to damage from a heart attack. Weakening also could mean that the area isn't getting enough blood supply, which may be due to coronary heart disease.
  • Problems with your heart's valves. Echo can show whether any of the valves of your heart don't open normally or don't form a complete seal when closed.
  • Problems with your heart's structure. Echo can detect many structural problems, such as a hole in the septum and other congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects are structural problems present at birth.
  • Blood clots or tumors. If you've had a stroke, echo might be done to check for blood clots or tumors that may have caused it.


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