Since being diagnosed with high cholesterol, I have been seeing my cardiologist about four times a year for my quarterly blood screen. As part of these routine visits I get weighed, my temperature is taken, and I receive a reading of my blood pressure.
Now, I have a blood pressure reader at home and I know that my numbers are at the high end of normal, but every time that I go for my quarterly visit my numbers go through the roof (must be my anxiety). I honestly don't think that they believe me when I tell them that my readings at home tend to be ok. So, last month they scheduled me for an echocardiogram to see what really is going on.
An echocardiogram, often referred to in the medical community as simply an ECHO, is a sonogram of the heart which produces two-dimensional pictures of the cardiovascular system, and produces accurate assessment of the velocity of blood and cardiac tissue allowing an assessment of cardiac valve areas and function, any abnormal communications between the left and right side of the heart, any leaking of blood through the valves, and calculation of the cardiac output as well as the ejection fraction. In short, it provides an excellent snapshot of your heart's health.
I went in two weeks ago for the exam and spent what seemed a lifetime (I think it really was only about 15-20 minutes) laying on a dentist chair in several different positions, mainly on my side, while the technician ran a cold, slimy apparatus over different parts of my chest. It was actually kind of neat to hear my heartbeat and see pictures of my heart at work. All in all, it wasn't a bad experience and the tech was very professional and friendly.
I returned to see my cardiologist two days ago for a follow-up and to hear his thoughts on the ECHO's results. Overall, my heart is strong, my valves are working flawlessly and everything is functioning as it is supposed to. The only small thing was that he noticed a bit of thickening of the heart muscle taking place, which he attributed to my blood pressure struggles. He didn't seem worried and definitely didn't want me worrying about it, but he did assign me the task of monitoring my blood pressure daily for the next thirty days. I guess it is really time to cut way down on the salty and sugary treats, as well as the processed foods.
BTW, make sure that you check out fellow blogger Melanie Thomassian's latest entry about how triglycerides affect your health. Happy heart health to all!!