Over 650,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. But when medical professionals diagnose it early enough, they can provide treatment that reduces the most severe heart disease risks. Venu Prabaker, MD, and the team at Healthcare Medical Group of La Mesa in La Mesa, California, believe that preventive care is vital to achieving long-term good health. They use echocardiogram technology to identify and monitor heart problems and provide their patients with comprehensive care programs.

An echocardiogram is a test that looks for abnormalities in the heart. Also called an echo test, it uses ultrasound, or soundwaves, to create pictures of the heart’s chambers and valves.

Dr. Prabaker uses an echo test to check heart function, detect and monitor heart disease, and evaluate recovery after treatment.

What does an echocardiogram show?

An echocardiogram allows Dr. Prabaker to see your heart’s size and shape and measure the thickness of the heart’s walls. It also shows:

  • Movement of the heart and heart walls
  • Valve function
  • Pumping strength
  • Heart muscle damage
  • Blood flow problems
  • Narrowing of the heart valves
  • Abnormal growth in and around the heart valves
  • Blood clots in the heart’s chambers

Dr. Prabaker believes that taking an aggressive approach to health care prevents his patients from becoming severely ill. An echocardiogram enables him to catch heart problems before they become serious.

What are the different types of echocardiograms?

The four main types of echocardiogram are transthoracic, stress, Doppler, and transesophageal.


A transthoracic echocardiogram is the most common type of echo test. Dr. Prabaker or one of his assistants spreads gel on the ultrasound device (the transducer) and holds it against your chest so that the ultrasound beam can record the soundwaves from the heart. A computer then converts the soundwaves into pictures of your heart.


A Doppler ultrasound uses high-frequency soundwaves to assess blood flow. Doppler signals change pitch (sound higher or lower) when they bounce off blood cells. The Doppler ultrasound uses this information to determine how fast or slow the blood is moving and in which direction.