A transthoracic echo-cardiogram, or simply an ‘echo’, is a sonogram of the heart used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases. It can provide a wealth of helpful information, including the size and shape of the heart, its pumping capacity, and the location and extent of any damage to its tissues. It is especially useful for assessing diseases of the heart valves. An echo-cardiogram not only allows doctors to evaluate the heart valves, but it can detect abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow such as the backward flow of blood through partly closed heart valves, known as regurgitation. By assessing the motion of the heart wall, echocardiography can help detect the presence and assess the severity of coronary artery disease, as well as help determine whether any chest pain is related to heart disease. The biggest advantage to echocardiography is that it is non-invasive (doesn’t involve breaking the skin or entering body cavities) and has no known risks or side effects.
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