Friday, September 07, 2007

Heart Movies Heart Sounds

Here's Roger filling out paperwork before the echocardiogram. We like the mix of high and low tech devices.
this is being written just after returning from the hospital on thursday (while eating lunch):

i had blood taken last week and the results are good. low cholesterol. low psa. (the prostate cancer indicator). the vascular screening i had a week ago, a sonogram of various arteries, indicated all is ok. i.e. no aneurysms. today i had an echocardiagram, which is another sonogram, this time of my heart itself, to see if my high bp has damaged my heart. high bp sometimes causes valve wear and/or thickening of the heart muscle itself. the results (a gigabyte of data, according to the sonographer) were transmitted over the intertubes from the hospital here to the doctor elsewhere who will read the recording and then fax his interpretation to my doctor, whose nurse will call me on the phone to give me the news.

robin came along with me today, as she did for the previous test also. (good for my morale) this time she brought the camera. as the monitor showed a live action picture of my heart beating, actually of the valves opening and closing, she took little movies of the action. with sound.

so now i wait for the vast machinery of communication to cough up an opinion on the health of my heart. we hope to have an update here before we post this tonight. (Nope, no update.)
I did accompany Roger to the hospital for his echocardiogram. It was quite an experience to both see and hear his heart beating in his chest. The sonographer, who was incredibly kind to let me take photos, started each session by explaining where she was looking. She'd say, "There's your aorta... your mitral valve... the colors show the blood flow." I started taking still shots, like the one above, but realized I could probably capture the whole thing on video.
video
I found it thrilling to record this image of Roger's heart beating, to be able to watch the movement, the way the valves opened and closed. The sonographer measured points on the screen, then would click something and there would suddenly be color. She explained that the different colors represent the different speeds and directions of blood flow in the heart.
video
Then she clicked something else and we could hear Roger's heart working. The room filled with the sound, like from inside a submarine, from deep under water. Rhythmic, not mechanical, but regular and fluid. Astonishing. It was a sound I wished I could tune into anytime, just to listen - just to verify.

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