What Is a Cardiovascular Ultrasound?

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A cardiovascular ultrasound provides medical professionals with images of the heart and captures high-quality images that allow doctors to evaluate the health of a patient’s heart. The most common type of cardiovascular ultrasound is simple for the patient and is completely non-invasive. A technician will apply gel to the patient’s chest and use the transducer to pass over the chest are. The sound waves then bounce to create a live image of the patient’s heart and valves. It uses the exact same technology that is used to track pregnancy and the health of unborn children. There is no radiation risk with cardiovascular ultrasounds and it is suitable for patients of any age.

Reasons for A Cardiovascular Ultrasound

There are a variety of reasons that a doctor may want to proceed with a cardiovascular ultrasound for a patient, including heart murmurs, unexplained pain in the upper arm or chest, a suspected heart attack, a heart attack, history of heart disease, or a heart defect. There are other reasons, too, such as looking for fluid, determining the cause of a heart murmur, inspecting how powerful the heart’s pump is (especially for patients who experience shortness of breath), and investigating heart chamber size.

It’s incredibly useful as a way to evaluate both the function of your heart and its structure and the vessels associated with it. It is completely painless and quick and easy.

Preparations & Expectations

When it comes to cardiovascular ultrasounds there is no need to take any specific medications beforehand, nor are you required to fast or change your diet. In fact, you should follow the same routine you always do and that includes taking any prescribed medications (unless the doctor advises you otherwise). The process takes around an hour and generally takes place in the dark as to allow the technician a clear view of the monitor.

The waves in a cardiovascular ultrasound aren’t audible so you won’t hear any type of sound waves like you do during prenatal ultrasounds. The structures of the heart are in real-time and are white moving objects when images appear on the monitor. For instance, the heart valves will appear as moving structures that look like white flaps. Things like blood and fluid appear on the screen in black.

The technician will also make marks on the screen using calipers and this is essentially to record measurements relating to the blood flow, size, and function of the heart. This type of exam also includes a doppler examination which records the flow of blood. This is audible and you can hear the blood pumping and the opening and closing of the heart valves.

Following The Exam

The doctor will review the images and sounds that the technician has recorded and contact the patient with the results. When the ultrasound is completed by a technician they do not offer the patient any type of results as they are only trained in carrying out the exam itself, not in determining the meaning of results. When the doctor themselves carries out the exam it is entirely up to them whether they wish to discuss the findings with the patient at the time or take the time to fully review the information.