Echocardiography

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Echocardiography. Cardiac health

Echocardiography

This examination enables determining of the anatomical structure of the heart, the sizes of ventricles and atria, contractility thereof, the thickness of the walls of the heart, the presence of scars or thrombi after myocardial infarction, evaluation of the status and function of the valves of the heart, as well as the functional condition of the heart muscle.

Echocardiography enables visualisation of abnormalities that are hazardous for the patient, but do not cause any complaints over a long period of time. The examination enables diagnosis of the degree of cardiac failure, determination of the systolic and diastolic function of the heart, as well as detection of the cause of elevated blood pressure and exclusion of the possibility of cardiomyopathy after a viral infection.

Duration of the examination

Approximately 15-20 minutes.

Preparation

No preliminary preparation is required. Warn your physician of the existence of a pacemaker or medicines that you are using.

Sensations

Painless and harmless examination (radiation free).

Limitations

Jewellery must be removed, it may interfere with the examination.
There are no other limitations.

Advantages of the method

High precision – visualisation of the heart and 3D reconstructions is 30% better than during standard echocardiography procedures.
May be performed on pregnant women and children.

Results

The physician provides an opinion immediately after the examination.

Diagnostic principles

The echocardiography (ultrasound examination of the heart) or ECHO at GK Neiroklīnika in Riga is performed by using the newest generation top level colour coded cardiovascular ultrasound device. This ensures 30% better heart visualisation and 3D reconstructions than standard echocardiography devices, enabling the physician to be more precise in visualising and assessing the pathology.

Prior to the examination, the physician will request the patient to remove clothes and jewellery from the chest and to tell them about the presence of a heart pacifier or the use of medicinal products.

During the examination, the patient will be lying alternately either on the back or on the left side. The specialist will apply gel on the skin to ensure the better transmission of ultrasound through the tissue. The ultrasound probe shall be placed on the thorax in the area of the heart to examine the heart in various positions, and enable access for the visualisation of various cavities of the heart in the longitudinal and transverse direction. Echocardiography can be used to determine the velocity and direction of the blood flow. ECG monitor registers the electric activity and heart function during the procedure.

When the use of echocardiography is recommended

Reasons for echocardiography examination

  • Atherosclerosis that causes heart function disorders.
  • Cardiomyopathy: dilatation of heart or other changes of the heart muscle.
  • Congenital heart defect: defects of one or several structures of the heart.
  • Congestive heart failure. Status, where the function of the heart muscle has become weaker to the extent that it fails to ensure efficient blood flow, causing increased accumulation of fluid (oedema) on the legs, around the ankles and in other parts of the body.
  • Aneurism: a dilation of the heart muscle or aorta, which can cause weakening of tissue in the area, where the aneurysm has developed.
  • Heart valve diseases: disorders in the functionality of one or several valves of the heart, which may cause deviations of blood flow in the heart.
  • Tumours of the heart, which can develop on the external surface of the heart or inside of the heart.
  • Pericarditis: inflammation or infection of the tissue that surrounds the heart.
  • Fainting of unclear origin.
  • Complaints of heart rhythm disorders, pain in the area of the heart.
  • Elevated arterial pressure.
  • Dyspnoea.
  • Patients with diabetes mellitus.
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level.
  • Arrhythmias or changes in the electrocardiogram.
  • After the replacement of heart valves and systemic diseases (rheumatism, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus).

Importance of prompt examination

Cardiovascular diseases are a major public health problem. The common cardiovascular diseases gradually develop over a period of several years, which is why symptoms that could serve as a prompt warning of the disease must receive due attention. One of the first examinations that a physician may refer the patient to is echocardiography – a diagnostic method for the examination of morphological changes in the heart and mechanical functions thereof.

Learn more about prevention of vascular diseases

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