Echocardiography is an essential investigation in
patients with suspected heart failure. An echocardiogram
provides assessment of cardiac chamber size and
structure, ventricular function, valvular function and key
This article explains the principles of echocardiography
and how general practitioners can use echocardiograms to
manage patients with heart failure.
Echocardiography can provide diagnostic information
about the cause of heart failure, and may indicate what
further investigations are required and what therapy
is indicated. It may also provide important prognostic
information. It can be used for noninvasive quantitative
monitoring. Identification of impaired systolic function is
important as there is evidence based therapy which can
improve prognosis in this condition.
Heart failure is the inability of the heart to provide sufficient cardiac output for the body’s needs without an increase in filling pressures. Heart failure can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms and signs can be nonspecific – it is important to confirm a clinical diagnosis by demonstrating cardiac dysfunction.
Download the PDF for the full article.