What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a commonly used test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. It allows doctors to see how your heart is beating and pumping blood; and, it can help identify abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.

An echocardiogram can determine your heart’s pumping strength. Specific measurements may include the percentage of blood that’s pumped out or the volume of blood pumped by the heart in one minute. If your heart isn’t pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, heart failure may be a concern. It can also show how your heart valves move as your heart beats. Your doctor can determine if the valves open wide enough for adequate blood flow or close fully to prevent blood leakage. Abnormal blood flow patterns and certain conditions, such as aortic valve stenosis, can be detected as well.

If you have had a prior heart attack, an echocardiogram can determine any damage that may have been caused to the heart muscle. Your doctor can determine whether all parts of the heart wall are contributing normally to your heart’s pumping activity. Defects of the heart such as problems with the heart chambers, abnormal connections between the heart and major blood vessels, and complex heart defects that are present at birth, can also be detected. Finally, an echocardiogram can determine your heart’s size. Weakened or damaged heart valves, high blood pressure or other diseases can cause the chambers of your heart to enlarge. Your doctor can use an echocardiogram to evaluate the need for treatment or monitor treatment effectiveness.

At Mount Sinai, we have the latest in 3-D echocardiography technology which allows our doctors to more accurately assess a patient’s risk of heart disease by revealing heart valve function, blood flow and coronary artery disease. Our state-of-the-art echocardiography lab is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL). Mount Sinai’s echocardiography lab is one of the few laboratories in the the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico recognized for its commitment to high quality patient care and its provision of quality diagnostic testing for heart disease.

Dr. Juan-Carlos Brenes is the Co-Director of the Mount Sinai Echocardiography Laboratory. He sees patients at both Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, as well as in Mount Sinai Aventura’s multi-specialty physician office. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brenes, call 305-674-CARE (2273) or visit www.msmc.com.

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