The heart is the primary organ of primary importance as it plays a crucial role in pumping blood throughout the body. Therefore, irregular or poor functioning of the heart could be fatal. To evaluate the functions of the heart, various invasive and noninvasive procedures help to understand the functions of the heart. This article explains the tests that help to evaluate heart functions.
What Is Ventricular Function Assessment?
Ventricular function assessment helps to quantify the functions of the heart by evaluating the amount of blood pumped by the heart for every heartbeat. It is an important parameter to assess heart functions to understand the potential risks and complications.
What Are the Symptoms of Abnormal Ventricular Function?
The abnormal ventricular function can cause irregular heartbeat and variations in the heart rhythm. The most commonly experienced symptoms in abnormal ventricular function are mentioned below:
How Is Ventricular Function Assessed?
The ventricular function is assessed with the help of various imaging techniques that provide a clear picture of the heart and its blood flow. An echocardiogram is the most commonly performed imaging technique, as it is simple and non-invasive. Echocardiograms are of different types, which help to trace or view the heart from different angles and understand the abnormal functioning of the heart. It is a procedure that assesses the internal structures and evaluates the functions of the heart. It is a non-invasive procedure that is performed by passing high-frequency sound waves via a transducer. The transducer is positioned at specific locations on the chest so that the sound waves move through the skin and the heart tissues. These sound waves may bounce through the heart structures, producing an echoing effect.
Two-Dimensional Echocardiography - The two-dimensional echocardiogram helps to view the heart's structures in the form of a cone that appears on the monitor's display. It helps the evaluation of the heart in real time. This procedure benefits doctors as it aids them in assessing the heart structures as they function and evaluates them thoroughly.
Three-Dimensional Echocardiography - The three-dimensional echocardiogram closely resembles the two-dimensional echocardiogram. However, it produces more accurate imaging of the heart. It helps to evaluate the functions of the heart as the heart is beating. It shows progressive views of the heart's anatomy, which can be determined appropriately in treating patients with any form of heart disease.
M-Mode Echocardiography - M-mode echocardiography is the simplest form of heart evaluation. It traces the structures of the heart rather than producing proper images of the heart structures like 2-D or 3-D echocardiogram. However, it helps measure the pumping of the heart chamber and measuring the heart size along with the thickness of the heart walls.
Doppler Echocardiography - A doppler echocardiography explicitly evaluates blood flow through the heart's chambers and valves. This helps indicate any abnormal blood flow within the heart. The doctors may evaluate the cause of abnormal blood flow and treat accordingly to enhance the blood flow and restore proper heart functions.
Color Doppler - A color doppler uses different colors to identify the direction of blood flow designated. It is just an advanced form of doppler echocardiography. However, it helps simplify the interpretation of the doppler technique.
Who Needs an Echocardiogram?
Individuals with the following heart conditions may require an echocardiogram to evaluate the signs and symptoms and help the doctor diagnose and plan the treatment accordingly.
Congenital Heart Disease - A heart defect usually occurs at birth. It is commonly referred to as a hole in the chamber of the heart. A ventricular septal defect is an example of congenital heart disease.
Cardiomyopathy - A condition of the heart that causes enlargement of the heart. It usually occurs due to thick heart walls or weakness in the heart muscles.
Atherosclerosis - It is the clogging of the arteries present in the heart due to fat deposits and other substances that circulate in the bloodstream. It may gradually affect the pumping of the heart.
Aneurysm - The widening of heart muscles or arteries that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body is at risk of rupture in an aneurysm.
Heart Valve Diseases - Improper functioning of more heart valves that cause abnormal blood flow as the valves get narrowed and restrict blood flow through the heart and to the lungs for purification. Sometimes, the valves may become extremely leaky and cause backward blood flow. It may occur as a result of infection, which can be confirmed with the help of an echocardiogram.
Cardiac Tumor - It usually occurs on the outer surface of the heart. A tumor may be benign or malignant, which can be predicted by evaluating the metastasis (spread) through diagnostic aids.
Pericarditis - It is a condition in which inflammation or infection occurs in the peripheral layer of the heart. It causes enlargement and swelling of the heart.
What Are the Risks of an Echocardiogram?
Although the imaging procedures of echocardiogram are non-invasive and carry very few risks, they could cause discomfort in the placement of the transducer that produces the sound waves for imaging. In addition, as the procedure may take an hour, some individuals experience discomfort while lying on the blood. Other risks of an echocardiogram usually pertain to the coexisting medical conditions of an individual at the time of the procedure. Hence, informing the medical history can help the health care professional to perform the procedures accordingly.
What Happens After an Echocardiogram?
After the procedure, the doctors may evaluate the risks of heart disease and plan the treatment accordingly. If there are no risks, the doctor may advise proceeding with the routine, and in case of mild risks, diet and lifestyle modifications may be suggested. In high risks surgery may be required to resolve the heart issue and improve blood circulation and proper heart functioning.
Ventricular function assessment is a procedure to evaluate the functions of the heart. Various types of echocardiography provide a prospective study of the heart without any risks. In addition, measuring the functions of the heart and blood flow can aid proper treatment plan and better prognosis.