Thursday, July 11, 2013

Echocardiogram Today

It was really fascinating.  I've seen ultrasounds done, but on body parts that don't move (like gall bladders).  This is the first time that I have seen one being done on a part in motion.  The resolution isn't spectacularly high, limited, I would assume, by the frequency that they are using, but there is still enough detail to see valves opening and closing, and Doppler shifting enables the device to color blood flowing one direction blue and the other direction red.  The technician was also measuring chamber volume minima and maxima.

I could see my mitral valve, and it looks like it was closing and opening properly.  I could see my aortal valve, although it didn't look like it was completely closing.  (The cardiologist had indicated Tuesday that he wasn't sure if the squeak was mitral valve or aortal valve.)

The technician, of course, could not tell me anything.  But I did ask her when I would hear back from the doctor, hours or days?  "Early next week."

"If you saw something really serious, would it be early next week before I heard from him?"

"No, it would be hours."

I guess that I am not too worried.  The other interesting sign is that while the breathlessness that was bothering after the kidney stone surgery is still present, it seems to be declining.  On Sunday, I was spent 80 minutes on the treadmill, starting at 2.0 mph, and working my up to 2.7 mph.  At each level, I was breathless for a few minutes... then it went away.  Last night, I treadmilled for 80 minutes, starting at 2.0 mph, but getting up to 3.0 mph by the end.  Again, I had some breathing problems at each speed, but they did not last very long.

High blood pressure can be a cause of chronic aortic valve regurgitation.  While I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past, it was not a recent problem until I ended up in the emergency room with the kidney stone.  I find myself wondering if the high blood pressure brought on by the pain and anxiety might have done some damage -- and the exercise since then is helping.


  1. I just passed a kidney stone myself (because my body thought going to see 4th of July fireworks was dumb). The days after, taking a deep breath was painful and I did have a hard time catching my breath sometimes. I also had a lot of muscle pain above my kidney. I have always heard how painful passing a stone was, but didn't know how long it took to recover from it.

  2. "Lab coat hypertension" is not intrinsic hypertension; it is a sympathetic response to pain, anxiety or exertion that induces a transitory effect.

    Also diastolic pressure is much more significant regarding hypertension than systolic, because the lower number reflects the "resting" phase of the heart, when both the heart and peripheral vasculature return to the (relative) non-pressurized state.