As we go about our daily lives, echocardiograms are not something often thought about. They are not commonly discussed scans. However, when your heart health becomes something you think of more and more with age, a check-up scan could be something to benefit you.

In this article, we will take a closer look into what echocardiograms are used for, their history, and why you might consider private health care when having to have this scan. At Duality Health, we have echocardiogram expertise, alongside other in-depth services.

Defining An Echocardiogram

If you have been recommended to see a specialist for an echocardiogram following a health consultation, it’s worth knowing what they are, and how to prepare yourself for an appointment.

What are they?

Echocardiograms are a type of ultrasound, used to check your heart health. They work by using sound waves to produce moving images, which can show a physician the health of your heart. From this, a professional can diagnose any issues you might be suffering with.

Why are they used?

These procedures are a non-invasive way of checking your heart health. Unlike surgery, which requires opening up a person’s body, basic echocardiograms only need to scan your skin. The one more invasive type will only need to be inserted down your throat, and usually, an aesthetic can be given to help with any discomfort.

What are the different types?

There are a few different types of echocardiograms, which are employed depending on your different needs and symptoms.

  • Transthoracic – this is the most common type of echocardiogram, which consists of an ultrasound of your chest while lying down.
  • Stress – Similar to transthoracic, the same process is carried out during or just after exercise.
  • Contrast – With this procedure, you’ll have a harmless liquid inserted into your bloodstream which will show up clearly on your scan, to better show any abnormalities.
  • Transoesophageal – This is the most intrusive of echocardiograms, where a probe is passed down your oesophagus.

How does testing work?

Although there are a few different types of echocardiograms, the most common test is known as transthoracic echocardiogram. These tests are fairly simple to carry out.

You will have several electrodes attached to your chest. A lubricating gel will then be applied either directly to your skin or the ultrasound probe itself. A nearby machine will record what this probe scans. The process will not take long at all, usually between 15-60 minutes.

During your appointment, should anything major happen, such as a heart attack, your appointment will be stopped.

When will you get your results?

Depending on your test, you may get your results at your appointment. In other cases, it may take more time for your results as another doctor has to check them. Usually, you should not have to wait long to hear the answers.

The History of Echocardiogram Tests

Echocardiography was developed around the mid-20th century, from the research of Inge Edler. His innovative approach adapted the technology used by submarines earlier in the century to use in the medical sciences. He realised sonar could be adapted to detect valve issues within the heart. Echocardiograms were first used in the NHS in the 1970s, and have been in use ever since.

What It Can Show

Echocardiograms can be brilliant for checking your heart for any problems. There are a few major diagnoses that can be made from the results of a test.

Heart diseases

Echocardiograms can be vital in diagnosing different types of congenital heart disease. These diseases are conditions you have been born with, which often cause lifelong problems. It’s a good idea to get these diagnostic tests done as soon as possible, so your condition can be put on your medical record and taken into consideration at all times.

Heart valve problems

Another problem that can be shown on an echocardiogram is damaged heart valves. Your heart valves are essential to the workings of your cardiovascular system, as they manage the flow of blood within your heart. A damaged valve can cause medical emergencies like heart failure, so early detection is always preferable.

Heart damage

Major medical events such as heart attacks are not just frightening in the moment. They can cause injuries to your heart muscles, which can have various impacts should they go undetected. This could be an irregular or unsteady heartbeat, for example, or something as dangerous as cardiogenic shock.

Infections within the heart

Sometimes known as endocarditis, an infection within your heart can be very serious if left untreated. This is a very rare condition but is more common in those who have had serious heart surgeries, such as a valve replacement. It’s important to have your heart regularly checked following any major procedures.

Ways To Keep A Healthy Heart

To reduce your concerns about your heart, there are some ways you can reduce damage to one of your most vital organs. We have listed a few below to help you keep healthy.

  • Quit smoking – Smoking can increase your chances of heart disease and cancer, so it can be very beneficial to make a conscious effort to stop.
  • Stay a healthy weight – Exercise and diet can help prevent dangerous obesity. Obesity can cause heart health issues.
  • Manage stress – Stress is linked to unhealthy habits, used to give temporary relief.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure – Monitor your cholesterol levels and reduce high levels through your dietary choices. Your blood pressure can be just as important, so exercise regularly and change your diet to lower this.

During a private health consultation, you can ask for tips and tricks from your general practitioner to help reduce harmful damage to your heart. Often, they can help you make a plan on what to change in your lifestyle to achieve heart health.

Private Echocardiograms

Visiting a private doctor for an echocardiogram can be very helpful for putting your mind at ease. There are some definite advantages of having your heart health checked with a private consultant.

Reduced Wait Times

If you require an echocardiogram, the wait times through the NHS can be extremely long, resulting in a delay in your health issue being addressed. By opting for private healthcare, you can ensure that you’re seen much quicker.

Expert Specialists

When choosing a private healthcare provider, you’re more likely to find the top medical professionals in their field. This ensures you are receiving the best possible healthcare from the most knowledgeable sources.

Preventative Scans

To detect any symptoms or issues before they become a worrying concern, it’s good to have a sort of Medical MOT. By having your heart health checked routinely, you can feel confident in your day-to-day life, and know what you can do to improve it too. Unfortunately, these are not available with the NHS, however many private healthcare providers will offer checks.

Regular Check-Ups

If you have an existing heart condition, it can be good to get seen regularly, rather than just if your symptoms change. In this way, your heart health can be monitored routinely, giving your doctor a better idea of your heart’s ongoing health and resistance.

Duality Health

If you are looking to opt for a private GP consultation, our services at Duality Health could be perfect for you. We offer a range of services, such as nursing appointments, contraceptives and sexual health checks, hearing tests, and urgent care. Importantly, we can offer echocardiograms, medical MOTs and memberships to help you feel confident in your knowledge about your health.


If you believe you could benefit from an echocardiogram test, our team can offer these scans privately. As mentioned, these tests are fantastic for checking for any major issues or potential heart problems.

Medical MOTs

At Duality Health, we can offer what are known as medical MOTs. We will check through your ongoing health as a preventative measure, allowing us to detect illness and disease before symptoms occur. Any risk factors can be taken into account early, prompting further checks to ensure your body is in its best shape.


To help you get the most out of your private healthcare, we offer membership plans. We offer a variety of plans, so you can pick the one that suits you and your needs. After selecting the one that fits the best, you can use our online portal for easy access to your appointments and plans. This can help the stress out of your healthcare.

More Information

To learn more about us and what other services we offer, visit our website. Otherwise, feel free to contact us directly by telephone. Our Newry office is contactable at 028 308 33666 and our Galgorm office is contactable at 028 252 56093.