Marvellous Guide to my ECHO

Welcome to the Marvellous Guide to having an Echocardiogram (echo). The Pumping Marvellous Foundation is the UK’s patient led heart failure charity, however this guide is for anyone who is having an echo regardless of the reason why. As with all our guides, it has been put together by our marvellous team of patient educators. We would also like to thank the marvellous clinical technical team at Grantham Hospital, part of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who ensured that all the clinical details in this booklet are correct.

What the heart does

The heart is an organ that pumps blood around the body. Blood containing oxygen and nutrients are needed by every part of your body in order to function. It’s about the size of two fists clenched together; it sits in the centre of your chest tipping down to your left-hand side. It has different layers (one of which is made of muscle), so the heart can squeeze the blood out. It is told when to pump by a nerve that triggers the heart’s own electric system.

The heart delivers the blood via arteries and it is then returned via veins. The diagram shows the inside of the heart, made up of four chambers: on the right-hand side, blood returns from having delivered oxygen around the body by the veins, the heart then sends the blood to the lungs, picks up oxygen and returns to the left side of the heart which then delivers the blood to the body via arteries. Note from the diagram the little gates letting the blood move from one chamber to another; these are called valves. Every time the heart pumps blood around the body, it is called a beat. The heart needs to be looked after in order for it to do its job effectively.

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