The Expanding Role of Echocardiography in Patients with Heart Failure

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Echocardiography as a Tool in Small Animal Models

Technologic advances in echocardiography have resulted in the availability of echocardiographic methods of assessing ventricular function and perfusion in small animal models of heart failure.These include transgenic mice in which resting heart rate exceeds 600 beats per minute (bpm).


Echocardiography is enormously valuable in the diagnosis and management of patients with heart failure. At the time of initial patient evaluation, this technique is easily able to determine whether the primary abnormality is systolic or diastolic dysfunction and exclude underlying primary valve dysfunction or congenital heart disease. It is able to provide insight into the pathophysiology of heart failure in individual patients and has proven valuable in defining the natural history of the disease. It can provide a non-invasive assessment of hemodynamics and may help identify patients with a poor prognosis.

Finally, it may help guide the selection of patients for therapeutic intervention, and plays a critical role in cardiac resynchronization therapy, identifying patients most likely to benefit from device implantation and optimizing device settings post-implantation.Ôûá


  1. A full discussion of these techniques is beyond the scope of this article and the reader is referred to an excellent review on the subject by Nagueh, et al., in the American College of Cardiology Current Journal Review (Jan/Feb 2002).