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Diagnosing heart and vascular diseases is the first step in your journey to a healthier you. The heart and vascular specialists on the medical staff at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano use advanced ultrasound technology to help diagnose problems that affect your heart and blood vessels.

Ultrasound technology is an important part of diagnosing heart and vascular conditions, including:

  • Aneurysms
  • Blocked arteries
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart failure
  • Holes in the heart
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • Valve problems
  • Varicose veins

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses sound waves higher than human hearing can detect. When the sound waves hit body structures, they bounce off and travel back toward the transducer. A computer analyzes the echoes to produce a real-time moving image of the shape and structure of blood vessels.

Doppler ultrasound measures how sound waves echo off moving objects, using short bursts of ultrasonic waves to produce images of the direction and speed of the flow of blood. During a Doppler exam, the transducer measures the sound waves that bounce off red blood cells as they move through blood vessels. Doppler ultrasound allows physicians to determine whether blood flow has been affected by narrowed blood vessels, blood clots, or other obstructions.

Cardiac ultrasound produces images of the heart that can help physicians detect heart function and problems with heart valves. Vascular ultrasound creates images of blood circulation in the legs, arms, head, and neck. Physicians can detect disorders that affect the vascular (or circulatory) system such as blockages in an artery or a blood clot in a vein.

Types of ultrasound that your physician might use to diagnose heart and vascular disease include:

  • Arterial Doppler
  • Cardiac ultrasound, also known as echocardiogram
  • Carotid Doppler
  • Vascular ultrasound
  • Venous Doppler

Innovative technologies allow your cardiac or vascular specialist to view how your heart and blood vessels work in real time with three dimensional (3D) imaging. In cardiovascular medicine, duplex ultrasound combines regular ultrasound with Doppler technology, which allows doctors to view veins and arteries as well as assess speed and blood flow. Duplex ultrasound is safe; no radiation or contrast dyes are necessary.

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