Your doctor will look for healthy heart valves and chambers, as well as normal heartbeats. Information from the echocardiogram may show:
Sept. 17, 2015
- Heart size. Weakened or damaged heart valves, high blood pressure, or other diseases can cause the chambers of your heart to enlarge or the walls of your heart to be abnormally thickened. Your doctor can use an echocardiogram to evaluate the need for treatment or monitor treatment effectiveness.
- Pumping strength. An echocardiogram can help your doctor determine your heart's pumping strength. Specific measurements may include the percentage of blood that's pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat (ejection fraction) or the volume of blood pumped by the heart in one minute (cardiac output). If your heart isn't pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, this could result in heart failure.
- Damage to the heart muscle. During an echocardiogram, your doctor can determine whether all parts of the heart wall are contributing normally to your heart's pumping activity. Parts that move weakly may have been damaged during a heart attack or be receiving too little oxygen. This may indicate coronary artery disease or various other conditions.
- Valve problems. An echocardiogram shows how your heart valves move as your heart beats. Your doctor can determine if the valves open wide enough for adequate blood flow or close fully to prevent blood leakage.
- Heart defects. Many heart defects can be detected with an echocardiogram, including problems with the heart chambers, abnormal connections between the heart and major blood vessels, and complex heart defects that are present at birth. Echocardiograms can even be used to monitor a baby's heart development before birth.
- Echocardiography. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/echo/. Accessed July 31, 2015.
- Douglas PS, et al. ACCF/ASE/ACEP/ASNC/SCAI/SCCT/SCMR 2011 appropriateness use criteria for echocardiography. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. 2011;24:229.
- Hahn RT, et al. Guidelines for performing a comprehensive transesophageal echocardiographic examination: Recommendations from the American Society of Echocardiography and the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. 2013;26:921.
- Porter TR, et al. Guidelines for the use of echocardiography as a monitor for therapeutic intervention in adults: A report from the American Society of Echocardiography. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. 2015;28:40.
- What is stress testing? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stress#. Accessed July 31, 2015.
- Manning WJ. Principles of Doppler echocardiography. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 31, 2015.