Did you know that almost 18 million people a year die from cardiovascular disease? It is the leading cause of death in the world.
Currently, physicians use many different scans, tests, and measures. This allows for the early detection and management of different cardiac diseases. However, sometimes understanding these tests requires a whole different skill set.
For that reason, echocardiogram interpretations often remain a mystery. Healthcare professionals and patients can have a difficult time reading these hard tests.
Additionally, echocardiograms are commonly administered in health care. Knowing how to interpret results is important to patients and other health care providers.
What Is an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram often gets mistaken for an electrocardiogram in the healthcare industry. It is important to recognize the differences to help educate patients.
An electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of the heart. It is often used with an echocardiogram to monitor how a patient is doing. An echocardiogram basically shows you an image of your heart.
More specifically, echocardiograms use ultrasound to capture a picture of the heart. It also provides details on the muscle, valves, and blood flow.
Additionally, there are three echocardiograms to be aware of. These include a transthoracic, transesophageal, and stress echocardiogram.
A transthoracic echocardiogram is the most basic and common type administered. However, all of them have their importance in different illnesses.
A stress echocardiogram is commonly given to those who already have a heart disease diagnosis. You will have this procedure before and after exercise. These tests all use a single ultrasound probe to gather detailed images.
A transthoracic echocardiogram is an exception. In this procedure, more details of the heart are captured by putting the probe down the esophagus.
Who Receives an Echocardiogram?
There are a few reasons why your cardiologist might order an echocardiogram. If he or she suspects heart disease then that is the most obvious reason to order the test. It is also used for people who are already diagnosed with an illness or disease to monitor and check how treatments are working.
These results can show an enlarged heart, weakened muscles, heart valve defects, congenital heart defects, or a blood clot or tumor. Echocardiogram results can be life-changing and help save lives each year.
Echocardiogram Interpretations Basics
Echocardiogram results can be difficult to read and are extremely detail-oriented. There are a few ways to break down what your echo reads are telling about a patient.
If the results show an enlarged heart, then there will usually be specifications as to what region it impacts. The regions of the heart are the left/right ventricle and left/right atrium.
It is important to compare abnormal deviations to standard levels. Often, millimeters are used for more exact measurements.
Ejection fraction is also seen from using an echocardiogram. While a normal range is between 55-70%, anything below 40% is abnormal and can lead to heart failure.
Sometimes you can detect heart disease in the early stages, or determine if a heart attack has occurred, by looking at the heart rate intervals. Technology has allowed ultrasounds to detect small variations within milliseconds. This has led to an amazing tool to detect heart conditions early on.
Congenital heart defects affect children, but these defects show up during adulthood at times. Some common defects include a hole in one of the regions of the heart muscle, or impaired connections to your arteries from the heart muscle.
These scans can also show more severe issues involving clogging of the arteries and tumors.
Is It Safe?
Luckily, echocardiograms are extremely safe. Other than the transesophageal test, all of the exams are done non-invasively.
The doctor should spend time carefully explaining the details of the procedure. They should also review medications, medical history and check to see if the patient has a pacemaker in place.
How Is It Performed?
All jewelry and clothing on the patient’s torso should be removed prior to the procedure and a gown is given for patient privacy. The patient will lay on their left side on the table and be connected to an electrocardiogram.
The actual test is often performed by the tech. They will begin by putting ultrasound gel onto your chest and use the head of the wand to push against your chest in different areas. This is to gather different images and angles of your heart.
During the procedure, these images will be transmitted onto a screen. This lets the tech save them to a file for the cardiologist to review. If there is difficulty with seeing the images clearly, IV contrast may be used.
Why Telecardiology Is Helpful
Telecardiology can give you an avenue to access interpretations and results from echocardiograms. COVID-19 has helped spark telehealth services and open the door to broadening horizons.
Telecardiology can provide you with a group of exceptional cardiologists. They can also give critical feedback or education. These cardiac specialists can interpret echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, and other various procedures.
Using this resource will provide valuable feedback for difficult-to-read tests. Technology has evolved to allow for easy communication while remaining HIPPA compliant. Look for board-certified physicians to make sure you are getting the specialist you need.
The Future of Medicine
Heart disease impacts many individuals and families each year and has become a leading chronic disease in the world.
Quality patient care is an important aspect of health care that is lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Telecardiology can give you fast and quality results. It’s important that you look for qualified, certified, and educated cardiologists.
Echocardiogram interpretations can be difficult to read or interpret and sometimes a specialist is needed. Reach out to a qualified team that can provide seamless technology and results to help manage devastating diseases.