Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston
Cardiologists located in Houston, TX & Cypress, TX
If you're having symptoms of a heart condition, diagnostic imaging tests like an echocardiogram can be invaluable in getting to the root of your problems. The cardiologists at Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston in Houston and North Cypress, Texas, provide state-of-the-art diagnostic services, including Doppler and stress echocardiograms. If you need expert diagnosis and treatment, call the location nearest you today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.
Echocardiogram Q & A
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a tool that the Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston uses to help diagnose symptoms of heart problems. You might need to have an echocardiogram if:
- You’ve had a heart attack
- You’re experiencing unexplained chest pains
- You have a heart murmur
- You’ve had rheumatic fever
- You have a congenital heart defect
An echocardiogram creates a moving image of your heart on a monitor that shows how your heart is beating and how efficiently it's pumping blood.
The technology used in the echocardiogram is ultrasound, which creates high-frequency sound waves. These sound waves hit the structures of your heart and rebound as echoes. Computer technology then converts the echoes to produce the images on a screen.
What different types of echocardiograms are there?
The Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston uses several different types of echocardiogram, all available onsite, including:
A transthoracic echocardiogram is like an abdominal ultrasound, but on your chest rather than your belly. The technician moves a handpiece called a transducer across your skin, using a slippery gel to help the transducer slide easily.
If the ultrasound image isn't clear because your ribs or lungs are obstructing access to your heart, you can have an injection containing an enhancing agent to make the images clearer.
With transesophageal echocardiogram, your provider passes a special transducer down your esophagus until it's level with your heart. This type of echocardiogram might be necessary if issues like lung problems, obesity, or scar tissue from previous heart surgery mean it's difficult to use transthoracic echocardiogram.
Doppler echocardiograms measure the way the pitch of high-frequency sound waves changes as they rebound off the blood cells in your veins, arteries, and heart. Doppler technology is useful for measuring the direction and rate of blood flow.
Sometimes patients have symptoms of heart conditions, but nothing shows up on standard imaging tests. In this case, a stress echocardiogram can be a helpful way of ensuring your symptoms are present when recording your heart's activity.
To perform the test, your provider at Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston asks you to exercise on a treadmill to raise your heartbeat, which increases the chance of the test detecting the changes in your heart that are responsible for your symptoms.
What do the results of an echocardiogram show?
An echocardiogram can help to diagnose problems such as:
- Valve dysfunction
- Heart chamber abnormalities
- Enlarged heart chambers
- Heart muscle damage
- Thickening heart walls
- Inadequate pumping
- Complex congenital heart defects
- Faulty connections between your heart and major blood vessels
The Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston goes over the results in detail with you and uses them to help create a suitable treatment plan.
If you're having symptoms that might be due to heart problems, call the Heart Care Center of Northwest Houston today or book an appointment online.