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Embargoed for release: 9 December 2008 19:00 Eastern US Time; 10 December 2008 00:01 GMT (London)
The first-line test in patients with a suspicion of cardiovascular disease – including arterial disease and heart failure - should now be echocardiography, says Professor Jose Luis Zamorano, Chair of the Programme Committee for EUROECHO 2008 and EAE President-Elect.
EUROECHO 2008, which is now the world’s largest scientific gathering on echocardiography, will take place in Lyon, France, from 10-13th December. EUROECHO 2008 is the twelfth Annual Meeting of the European Association of Echocardiography, a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology Professor Zamorano, from the San Carlos University Clinic in Madrid, Spain, describes echocardiography as “crucial” in all types of heart disease, not just to confirm diagnosis but also to exclude the possibility of disease; “so echocardiography is excellent in diagnosis and prognosis”, he adds.
The principal advantage of routine echocardiography, which uses ultrasound waves to produce an image of the heart, is its non-invasive nature. A transducer placed on the thorax can produce accurate images of the heart’s four chambers, the valves and aorta, and tissue damage, and thereby provide information on blood flow, pumping capacity and coronary arteries.
An alternative – and usually more accurate - image can be provided by transesophageal echocardiography, by which the transducer is passed directly into the patient’s esophagus, thereby avoiding the thoracic barriers of skin, fat and bone.
Two other technological developments will be reviewed at EUROECHO 2008: the development of portable echocardiographic systems; and the rapid introduction of three-dimensional echo. The congress will also feature two formal scientific themes: stress echo as one of the major diagnostic tests for coronary artery disease; and the application of echocardiography in patients with heart failure, presently the world’s fastest growing cardiovascular disease.
Professor Petros Nihoyannopoulos from the National Heart and Lung Institute in London and outgoing President of the European Association of Echocardiography describes echocardiography as “the most important diagnostic imaging modality in cardiology”, adding: “I am convinced that echocardiography will be the major sub-specialty in cardiology for the next 20 years and beyond.”
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