Echocardiography (echo) can be used to evaluate your cardiac performance, the function of your heart valves, the thickness and motion of your heart walls, and the size of your heart chambers. An echo can help diagnose many heart conditions. Cardiac performance
An echocardiogram can show how well your heart pumps blood (cardiac performance). To evaluate your cardiac performance, your doctor will mainly be interested in: • Your left ventricle, which pumps oxygen-rich blood to your entire body. Many problems, including a faulty heart valve or coronary artery disease, can impair your left ventricle's ability to pump blood and can lead to heart failure. • Your ejection fraction, which is one of the best indicators of your cardiac performance. Ejection fraction is the percentage of blood your heart is able to pump out of the left ventricle with each beat. The contraction of your heart chambers is called systole, so your ejection fraction is a reflection of your systolic performance. A normal ejection fraction is about 60%. A low ejection fraction may mean that your heart is not pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, and may indicate heart failure. • The functioning of your other heart chambers (left atrium, right ventricle, right atrium), which also indicates your heart's performance. Heart valves
An echo can also evaluate how well a prosthetic valve is functioning. An echo can detect the three main problems that affect heart valves: • Stenosis is a narrowing of the valve, resulting in an insufficient quantity of blood getting through your valve or an increase in the pressure needed to get blood through the valve. An echo can detect valvular stenosis and assess its severity by: o Showing restricted valve movement.
o Measuring the narrowing in the valve opening.
o Using a Doppler echo to measure the speed of the blood flowing through the valves and to assess the size of...