Heart Health: Echocardiography to View the Heart
Welcome to this month’s Heart Care newsletter. Our topic is Echocardiography: A Valuable View of the Heart. A medical test called contrast echocardiography has been found to have a significant impact on the diagnosis and treatment of people hospitalized with heart disease. The findings were reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Echocardiography is performed to get a detailed image of the heart. The test uses sound waves that bounce into the body to create a visible image while the heart is moving. If that image isn’t clear enough, it can be improved by injecting a substance called a contrast agent, which allows the sound waves to reflect better. After contrast echocardiography, a doctor’s ability to interpret the findings is significantly improved.
Study leader Dr. William Zoghbi says that it’s the first time that doctors measured the impact of contrast echocardiography on the heart’s blood pumping ability, or ventricular function. The study highlighted the benefits of echocardiography. For example, the use of echocardiography reduced the number of diagnostic procedures in 33 percent of the 632 patients evaluated in the trial. And in some cases, the test altered drug management by ten percent.
Contrast echocardiography technology is widely available in U.S. hospitals, and has been found to be most useful in the intensive care unit. Dr. Zoghbi says these patients are usually sicker and have a lot of medical instruments in use. So, day to day patient management, particularly for hospitalized patients, is important. What we’ve shown is that contrast echocardiography is important in complex cases where the first images aren’t clear enough, Dr. Zoghbi explains. He uses it in about 15 percent of patients that are hospitalized.
The use of contrast echocardiography is beneficial in other areas as well, according to Dr. Kevin Wei. Based on a new study, the impact of contrast echocardiography extends to multiple situations, including the emergency room. In this medical setting, a patient can be evaluated for chest pain to determine whether a heart attack is the cause.
For more information, always consult your doctor. Thank you for listening. Please visit our website for more information on health and wellness topics.