Transthoracic Echocardiogram

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is an ultrasound that uses sound waves to show pictures of your heart. Your heart is a large muscle in your chest that pumps blood and oxygen to your body. Your heart has four chambers (spaces), including two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers). You have heart valves (doors) between each atrium and ventricle, and between each ventricle and its connecting blood vessels. These valves help control the blood flowing into, through, and out of the heart.

  • During a TTE, pictures of your heart are taken as your heart beats. The sound waves make echoes that create pictures of your moving heart. A transducer (hand-held device) is used to send the pictures of your heart to a TV-like screen. A TTE can show the movement and thickness of your heart wall. The TTE can also show the size of your heart chambers. A Doppler device may be used during your TTE to show the blood flow through your heart. Color Doppler shows your blood as different colors, depending on the speed and direction of the blood flow. A stress TTE may also be done to see how your heart functions when it has to work harder than normal.

  • You may need a TTE if you have symptoms of a heart problem, such as trouble breathing and chest pain. A TTE can show if you have heart valve problems or heart damage after having a heart attack. A TTE can show if you have excess fluid around your heart, or a heart mass (growth). A TTE may help guide your caregiver during a heart procedure or to check your heart after having surgery. Competitive athletes may need a TTE as part of a normal health exam. Having a TTE can help you and your caregiver learn if you have a heart problem. Learning about your heart problem will allow you to get proper treatment.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Eat a healthy diet:

Changing the way you eat can help control your symptoms, or decrease your risk for heart problems. You should eat a variety of healthy foods from each food group every day. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy.

Exercise:

Your caregiver may suggest an exercise program to help improve your heart health. It is best to start slowly, and do more as you get stronger. Rest when you need to. Do not start an exercise program without talking with your caregiver. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you.

Keep a healthy weight:

Keep a healthy weight so your heart does not have to work so hard. If you are overweight, ask your caregiver about a healthy weight-loss plan.

Manage your medical conditions:

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol (fat), and diabetes (high blood sugar) can lead to heart problems. Work with your caregiver to manage your medical conditions and decrease your risk for heart problems.

Quit smoking:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking harms your body in many ways. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

For more information:

Contact the following:

  • American Heart Association
    7272 Greenville Avenue
    Dallas , TX 75231-4596
    Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
    Web Address: http://www.heart.org

CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:

  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.

  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure, treatment, or care.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:

    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns

    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm

    • Trouble breathing

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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