Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do echocardiograms detect heart disease?"
My doctor suspects I have heart disease and has scheduled an echocardiogram. Will it find anything? What do I do if it does?
An echocardiogram is a specialized ultrasound of the heart. It is a very good test, because it allows your doctor to look closely at how your heart is functioning (how it squeezes and relaxes) as well as to measure certain pressures in the heart (to make sure they are not too high), and to evaluate the valves in the heart (to make sure they are not leaky or too tight). Usually, an echocardiogram is ordered by your primary care doctor after they find something suspicious on your physical examination. This is usually a murmur, which is an extra type of heart sound heard with a stethoscope. However, they may also order an echocardiogram if you have symptoms like shortness of breath or swelling in the feet. It is possible that nothing will be found on the echocardiogram, because sometimes murmurs that are heard are not actually due to any heart disease. This would be the best result. Alternatively, the test may find a problem with how your heart squeezes and relaxes, or there may be a problem with one of the valves. After you have the test completed, you will have to meet again with your primary care doctor to hear about the results of the tests.
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