Shady Grove now has an innovative Cardiovascular ultrasound machine that will change the way heart failure is diagnosed. The Vivid Echo 95 machine allows cardiologists to detect patterns that may result in heart failure before it happens.

Two of the most important improvements that this machine offers are better 2D imaging and the ability to detect heart strain.

According to cardiologist Dr. D. Leonard Griffen, the single greatest problem in echocardiology is noise. The Vivid Echo 95 cancels noise more effectively and at a higher processing rate, which allows doctors to capture clearer and more accurate 2D images. In the past managing noise has been a balancing act because eliminating too much noise can cause data to be lost, Dr. Griffen says. Recently developed algorithms with higher processing rates allow the Vivid Echo 95 to better recognize noise and not project it on the screen.

Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Sivak explains that one big way that the Echo will save lives is through the ability to detect heart strain. Strain is defined as the deformation of an object under force. The Echo’s strain capabilities examine the deformation of the myocardium in the heart.

“The Echo tracks microscopic areas of the myocardium over time to see their motion with each heartbeat. Instead of looking at the image and seeing how much of the hearts cavity is squeezed with each heartbeat, you can instead look at the mitochondrial areas and see how much they are moving.” Said Dr. Sivak.

This technology enables doctors to catch cardiac muscle dysfunction early. This is particularly important for cancer patients who are starting on chemotherapy agents, which are known to cause cardiomyopathy. Strain is also key when someone has a heart attack, and the Echo can observe how one area of the heart is working compared to other areas.

Previously medical professionals would have to wait until a visual decrease in the function of the heart was apparent, meaning there was already a decrease in the amount of blood supply being squeezed out in each heartbeat. The Vivid Echo 95’s strain capabilities catch dysfunction in the way the myocardium is working before heart function actually decreases.

“What this means for our patients is that we can detect dysfunction of the heart muscle early on even before it becomes symptomatic or otherwise evident on a standard echocardiogram” states echocardiographers, Rafael Flores and Vivian Orges. This is will greatly help patients undergoing chemotherapy, among other medical conditions.

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