If you have high blood pressure, you should be prepared to have an echocardiogram for your heart and you must accept that such a test will become a permanent, and ongoing, part of your life.

A heart echocardiogram isn’t the same sort of test that an ordinary doctor will give you during an office visit — an “electrogram” — where you are hooked up to wires and a print out of your heart’s electrical connections is offered.

A heart echocardiogram is much more sophisticated test performed in a cardiologist’s office.  An echocardiogram is an ultrasound for your heart:

An echocardiogram (often called “echo”) is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. During this test, high-frequency sound waves, called ultrasound, provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers. This allows the technician, called a sonographer, to evaluate the pumping action of the heart. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.

Janna and I had our first heart echocardiograms a month ago.  The process took about 20 minutes for each of us.  Mine took a little longer because my ribcage has “dense bones” that the ultrasound had trouble “seeing through” and so there was a lot of repositioning and moving around on my part.  The oddest thing about the heart echocardiogram is being on your left side for so long with electrodes attached to you and a gooey probe running all over your chest.

Three weeks later when we went back for our results and, Janna was, of course, “Ms. Perfecto” — as the doctor repeatedly said — with absolutely nothing wrong with her heart.  Good for her!

My heart, on the other hand, showed a slight thickening of the heart wall.  Average is 1.0 and mine was 1.1.  My cardiologist told me that thickening was because of my high blood pressure — the heart was working overtime to pump blood against the higher pressure — and that it was a good thing I was on my high blood pressure medication.

I asked him if the medication would ease that thickening and he said, “It’s possible.”  That’s good enough for me.  I’ll take a “possible” over an “impossible” any day.  Now I must continue to exercise and eat right and keep the faith that my body will return to a more average 1.0 notion in the months to come.

If you have high blood pressure, and if you haven’t had an echocardiogram for your heart yet — get to a cardiologist and get one done!  You don’t know what dangers are lurking within the most magnificent, and most vital, organ that thanklessly grinds away every day to keep you alive!


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