An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound scan used to image the heart and nearby blood vessels. It is an external procedure using an ultrasound scanner that consists of a small probe which emits high-frequency sound waves that then create echoes as they reflect off of different parts of the body. The echoes are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image on a monitor.
An electrocardiogram can be used to help detect various heart conditions by monitoring the structure of the heart and vessels and the way in which the blood flows through them.
The main things which can be detected with an electrocardiogram are:
- damage from a heart attack– where the supply of blood to the heart was suddenly blocked
- heart failure– where the heart fails to pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure
- congenital heart disease– birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart
- problems with the heart valves – problems affecting the valves that control the flow of blood within the heart
- cardiomyopathy– where the heart walls become thickened or enlarged
- endocarditis– an infection of the heart valves
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