Heart health is not something that can be taken lightly and anyone who has gone in for a check-up will know exactly how disturbing it can be if your doctor tells you that you have to get an ECG done. Regardless of how worried you may be, you get the ECG done and keep your fingers crossed and hope that everything is fine.
Your doctor looks at the ECG report and then believe it or not, asks for an ECHO Test to be done. So what exactly is it that an ECHO will tell the doctor that an ECG doesn’t, and why has he/she asked you to get the former done? In order to understand this, it is first important to understand what and ECG and an ECHO are.
An electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) is a non-invasive, painless and simple test that takes only a few minutes. It is also one component of an annual check-up. The equipment records the electrical activity of the heart in a series of tracings/waves, on a long strip of paper.
It is important for you to understand that any resting-ECG doesn’t reflect your heart’s electrical activity as it would, while it is under stress. There can be a number of reasons why an ECG is abnormal and it is not always an indication of a life-threatening heart disease. If there are any symptoms of a heart attack, this is exactly why a doctor may ask for further tests.
An Echocardiogram is essentially an ultrasound of your heart. It takes only 30 minutes to complete this non-invasive test. It makes use of ultrasound technology and provides a very clear picture of the heart’s structure. The equipment reads sound waves that are returned to it from the heart. These are in the form of echoes which then get converted into very sharp moving images of the heart & its valves. The ECHO Clearly shows the exact size of each one of the 4 chambers of the heart.
It also shows the function of the ventricle, which is the major pumping chamber of the heart. If the heart has suffered any damage from a heart attack or if a person has any valve or high blood pressure-related problems, they will be clearly visible on the echocardiogram. Addition of Doppler ultrasound to this equipment provides a very good picture of the blood that flows through the heart. Your doctor will then be able to assess the presence & extent of any valve-narrowing & valve leaks.
Now that you know what both these tests are, let’s try to understand why your doctor has asked you for an ECHO even after looking at your ECG report. An ECG measures the electrical efficiency of the heart and the doctor will be able to see whether the pattern is normal, erratic, too slow or too fast. If there is an abnormality in the size/shape of the heart, that will be visible too.
In short, an ECG is an effective first test and the doctor will be able to see an irregularity which would be an indication of heart disease. But an ECG does not accurately evaluate the heart’s pumping ability. If your doctor has asked for an ECHO after the ECG, it means he/she wants to check how efficiently the heart is pumping blood.
An ECHO will be used in diagnosis of heart valve disorders, coronary artery disease as well as thickening/enlargement of the heart muscle. The stress ECHO also combines all the information from the ECG & the ECHO into a single test. It is able to up the accuracy of diagnostic-testing into the 80th-percentile. ECHOS are extremely helpful in the diagnosis of heart disease in women.
Accurate Medical Interpretation
The doctor will interpret both the results and then provide a detailed diagnosis. As you can see, and ECG and an ECHO, both test the heart on different parameters and if your doctor wants you to get both these tests done, he/she is probably eliminating the possibility of different heart diseases. You should feel free to ask your doctor about what the tests results show and what their individual implications are.
Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy polyunsaturated fats that can help to boost heart health. A nutritious diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease and arthritis, positively impact behaviour and cognitive function, and even help us look better. No type of fat has been getting more publicity than omega-3 and we are likely to have seen television commercials or read about this unique type of fat. However, much of the omega-3 publicity we have heard has probably been focused on dietary supplements rather than food. In this article, we will look at omega-3 in our food and the best ways to balance the meal plan for a strong omega-3 support.
To include Omega 3 in our diets, we must first understand the composition of Omega 3. There are actually three types of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are collectively referred to as omega 3s. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in plant sources, while DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish and shellfish. The body has enzymes that can convert ALA to EPA and DHA — the two types that are more readily used by the body. ALA, EPA, and DHA all play important roles in support of our health, but the most valued among them is DHA.
Natural Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Experts say we should consume at least 2% of our total daily calories as omega-3 fatty acids; i.e. if we consume 2000 calories per day, our food should provide at least 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to increasing our omega-3 fatty acids intake, we just need to focus on bringing more omega 3 rich foods into our diets. Nuts, plants and fish top the list of natural sources. For non-vegetarians, fish is an excellent source of Omega 3, especially DHA. Among the fishes that are easily available in India Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines and Tuna are some of the recommendations. For vegetarians, the diet has to depend on conversion from ALA to EPA, and from EPA to DHA. The best sources are flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil and green leafy vegetables. Here is a list of food sources that contain Omega 3 and can be incorporated in our diets:
- Flaxseed (The best source for LNA)
- Legumes (moong, kidney, peas or split peas)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Dark green leafy vegetables (Spinach, Kale, Mustard greens, Collard)
- Canola Oil (Best source for omega 3 for cooking)
- Soybean oil
- Citrus fruits, Melons and Cherries
In addition to all the above natural sources, Omega 3 supplements are easily available in the market today. But care should be taken while using these supplements, as excessive use can lead to health hazards. Omega 3 can best be absorbed and utilized by our body, if conscious effort is taken to avoid saturated fats, transfats, and sugars.