Did you know?
THE BIG C WON’T STRIKE YOUR HEART
Heart cancer develops so rarely even the Mayo Clinic sees only about one case per year. That’s because heart cells stop dividing early, so cancer-causing mutations are less likely to occur.
Still, that’s not to say that cancer elsewhere in your body can’t harm your heart. Other cancers can metastasize, or spread, to your heart. Plus, chemotherapy and other treatments for malignancies can damage its tissue.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that uses sound waves to produce live images of your heart. The test allows your doctor to monitor how your heart and its valves are functioning. Specially trained technicians in echocardiography produce the images and videos, often using a special probe or transducer that is placed in various places on the chest wall, to view the heart from different directions. The key feature of echocardiogram is to determine the heart muscle’s health, especially after a heart attack and can also reveal heart defects in unborn babies.
Depending on the test being conducted, the patient may not need any special preparations. For stress echocardiogram, the patient should not eat heavy few hours to prevent nausea. TEE requires the patient not to eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the test.
The test may be done in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. The patient needs to remove any jewelry and clothes above the waist. A TTE, Doppler echocardiogram, and stress echocardiogram are performed by a specially trained ultrasound technician while TEE is performed by the cardiologist with the help of assistants.
The device picks up sound waves echoes as they bounce off on different parts of the heart. Echoes are turned into moving pictures of the heart that can be seen on a video screen. Results are usually available within one day. Results from the test conducted by a cardiologist may be available immediately after.
Echocardiograms are considered very safe. Unlike other imaging techniques, such as X-rays, echocardiograms don’t use radiation. The test uses high-frequency sound waves to evaluate the heart. Any allergic reaction caused by using contrast material can be controlled using medicine.
A transthoracic echocardiogram carries no risk. There’s a chance for slight discomfort when the electrodes are removed from your skin. This may feel similar to pulling off a Band-Aid.
There’s a rare chance the tube used in a transesophageal echocardiogram may scrape the side of your esophagus and cause irritation. The most common side effect is a sore throat.
When stress echocardiogram is performed, it could cause irregular heartbeat upon the usage of medication or exercise to increase the heart rate. The risk of a serious reaction is reduced because the procedure is supervised.