You clearly know this by now, but I’m not a doctor and do not work in the medical profession. All my information is based on personal experiences and is my opinions. I would highly recommend that you speak to your medical team about any procedure you are about to undergo, and simply use my information as a source of reference.
I will attempt to share my experiences so you can read and prepare for your own.
In this episode, I want to share some information about a very common procedure that most (if not all) heart patients go through.
Welcome to the Echocardiogram!
My first introduction to heart failure was done using the echocardiogram machine. You probably (hopefully) ready about me ordeal in previous posts, but in short, I visited a cardiologist on a referral from ER and he sent me straight to get an echocardiogram done.
The wonderful thing about this procedure is that it is absolutely pain-free and very relaxing. In fact, you may want to take this opportunity to relax and get some rest, as if this test is conclusive that you have heart issues, you will need to stock up on rest 🙂
I’ve had several of these tests done in the last 6 months, and the majority of the tests were a positive experience.
How does it work?
The setting and setup may vary from clinic to clinic, but my clinic has a small little office nicely heated and with limited medical equipment. The room has dim lights and a bed next to the echocardiogram machine.
Once you get in, you have to take off your shirt (nothing sexy here) and you lay down on the bed. The sonographer will place a number of patches around your chest and attach cables. These cables are monitoring strategic points for the heart and will help make the readings more accurate.
Next, the sonographer will put some heated gel on the scanning device, and start a gentle scan of your chest area.
The device reminds me of the same ultrasound machine used on women to track the fetus.
An electric picture is drawn on the large computer, and you can see heart rate, chambers of the heart, blood flows, passages, etc. It is an impressive piece of equipment.
The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes and is painless.
I only had one bad experience where a different sonographer, not my usual cheerful technician, pressed the handheld ‘wand’ to hard down on my heart. After the visit, I could feel a little soreness in my heart but it went away later that evening.
Nevertheless, not a pleasant feeling, especially as you are trying to recover from heart failure and you do not need additional strange feelings in your heart.
Another piece of advice, the sonographer will not give you any diagnosis. They only do the ultrasound and passes the information to the cardiologist.
Why do I need it?
This is one of the more important cardio machines you will appreciate.
The sole purpose is to provide your doctor with critical and timely information about how your heart; how it is functioning, the heart beats, blocks and the all famous Ejection Fraction aka EF.
Trust me, you will be an expert in EF and other heart terminology quick.
The information obtained from the echocardiogram will help the doctor diagnose and treat your heart disease, and it will confirm if things are working just fine or not.
There are many diseases that can be diagnosed, and many of these sounds terrifying such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses, and congenital heart disease.
For more information about these diseases please talk to your doctor.
After the diagnosis
Please note, doctors are working in this field and for them providing you with a diagnosis is the same as the cashier ringing you up at the supermarket.
They give you the facts and do not really understand how this impacts you mentally. I can highly recommend that you bring your wife/husband with you to such tests so you have support.
I know I cried and was upset when I was diagnosed with heart failure. Wouldn’t you?
You think your life is over at that moment in time, and not sure what the next minutes, hours or days will bring.
Take it from me, a heart warrior and survivor, you will win and you will beat this. It will take time and each treatment will vary from patient to patient.
You will need more echocardiograms throughout the next many months, and that is fine. Don’t fret and just use these sessions to learn more about your own heart and how it works.
If you want to chat or ask questions, please reach out to me directly.