The use of Echocardiogram in the Diagnosis of Valvular Heart Disease

December 14 22:48 2021
The use of Echocardiogram in the Diagnosis of Valvular Heart Disease

More than 30 million Americans are currently living with heart disease according to the latest reports from the medical sector, many of whom are fellow residents of South Carolina. This condition encompasses a range of defects and medical issues that can negatively affect the heart from infections to chronic diseases. It’s the world’s leading health threat and can affect both men and women. Though its risk factors are often more prominent with age, even younger adults can develop this condition. 

Taking a Closer Look at valvular heart disease

One specific condition that impacts cardiovascular health is valvular heart disease. This condition entails damage to the valves of the heart. Those valves regulate blood flow through the chambers of the heart. If they’re damaged or diseased, they can’t open and close properly to regulate blood flow the way they should. An estimated 2.5 percent of the population of the United States suffers from valvular disease, and it can lead to heart failure and cardiac arrest among other issues. 

What Causes Valvular Disease?

Valvular disease stems from several causes. Some people are born with it whereas others develop it over time as the heart sustains more wear. In some cases, it’s caused by endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Other times, it comes from group A streptococcus, the bacteria that cause strep throat. Other types of heart conditions and autoimmune diseases may also lead to valvular heart disease. People who suffer from high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and exposure to radiation are often at higher risk of developing this condition. 

How Is Valvular Disease Diagnosed?

Valvular disease can be diagnosed in different ways. One of the most common is through the use of an echocardiogram. With echocardiography, physicians essentially use ultrasound technology to gain insight into how the heart is working. Sound waves are passed through the chest where they reach the heart and its inner mechanisms.

Then, the sound waves bounce off the heart and are returned to the echocardiography machine’s receiver. From there, they’re essentially turned into a video of the heart in action. This allows a cardiologist to see inside the heart, watch how it’s functioning, and determine exactly where the problem lies. 

A physician can also use other signs to indicate possible valvular diseases, such as heart murmurs or rapid heart rate. Additional symptoms of the condition are key to diagnosis as well. These can include unusual fatigue, chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting spells, and rapid unexplained weight gain among others. Combining those factors with echocardiography provides an accurate diagnosis of valvular disease and pinpoints which valve is affected by the condition. 

Seeking Treatment for Valvular Heart Disease

Carolina Cardiology Associates is a leading team of cardiologists serving patients in South Carolina. Their dedicated staff is committed to providing fast and accurate diagnoses of heart conditions, state-of-the-art treatments, and in-depth education to help patients overcome their conditions and improve their quality of life. They also strive to create individualized treatment plans to fully address patients’ unique needs and challenges.

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