If you have a history of heart disease or symptoms that might suggest an underlying heart problem, or if your cardiologist wants to assess your general heart health, you may be referred for an echocardiogram (also known as an echo).

The team at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular performs hundreds of these comprehensive and noninvasive procedures each year, relying on the latest echocardiogram technologies to obtain vital heart data.

How does an echocardiogram work?

During an echo, an ultrasound transducer (a microphone-like object) is moved over the heart. The transducer emits ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard and those sound waves are used to evaluate the heart’s function and structures.

When the transducer is placed on a patient’s chest at certain locations and angles, the sound waves pass through the skin and other body tissues to the heart, where the waves bounce or echo off its structures. The transducer also picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer, which interprets the echoes into images of the heart walls and valves.

What are some of the other echocardiogram technologies used by our team ?

  • Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) - This is another type of echo in which a small transducer is passed down the esophagus (the tube through which food passes to the stomach) to provide a clearer image of heart structures.
  • Event Recorder - With this, patients use this small, portable, battery-powered machine over several weeks to obtain echo data over a longer period of time. During the testing period, the echoing can be recorded one of two ways:
    • Continuously
    • When patients experience symptoms (patient presses a button to record the echo sample).

Information captured by the event recorder is transmitted to the patient’s doctor’s office for further evaluation.

  • Tilt Table Test - This test is performed while a patient is connected to an echo machine as well as blood pressure monitors. The patient is secured to a table that tilts and taken from a horizontal to vertical position. This helps determine if the patient experiences sudden drops in blood pressure or pulse rates with position changes.

Are you a good candidate for an echocardiogram?

Having relevant, real time information can help your doctor make the most accurate assessments of your overall heart and determine the best course of treatment (when applicable).

First step is to undergo a thorough cardiovascular evaluation where your cardiologist will learn more about your medical and family history and be able to address any current symptoms you may be having. From there, an echocardiograph may be recommended.

To schedule an appointment in Portland, please call (503) 257-0959.