Health

What Does a Chest X-Ray Show About Your Heart?

It’s one of the most extensively used tests in the medical community. And despite being a common test, a lot of people don’t know what goes into the whole procedure.

Over the years, people have begun to prioritize their health above all else. People cross leaps and bounds obsessing over dietary and exercise regimes. It’s also vital for these people to get a full-body checkup done once a year, especially if it involves a chest X-ray.

Heart diseases are lethal to a vast portion of the global population. Whether it’s because of lifestyle habits or by inheriting it from a family member, people need to prioritize their heart. That’s why it’s so important to get your heart checked regularly and this involves the use of a chest X-ray.

What does a chest X-ray show about your heart?
By CDC/Unsplash copywrites 2021

1. What Happens During a Chest X-ray?

People who have never had a chest X-ray done but are about to get it done have different questions. Mainly, it’s what exactly happens during a chest X-ray.

1.1. Patient Requirements

Fortunately, patients don’t have to do much when it comes to a chest X-ray. However, there are certain exceptions. For instance, pregnant patients are advised to consult a doctor before getting a chest X-ray done. A chest X-ray typically takes up to 10-20 minutes.

1.2. The Procedure

Patients are asked to take off clothes and accessories and dress up in a hospital gown. Then the patient is usually told to be as still as possible whilst holding their breath during the procedure. The patient’s chest is then placed against the cassette which holds the film that will scan the chest.

The machine then passes rays through the body, revealing dense areas like the bones in a lighter area. Interestingly, areas that don’t entirely absorb the radiation are captured in a darker light. The last step in a chest X-ray is to make the patient repeat the same on the left. Patients are asked to do this whilst elevating their arms.

What does a chest X-ray show about your heart?
By CDC/Unsplash copywrites 2020

2. When is a Chest X-ray Necessary?

Everybody should regularly get their heart and lungs checked. However, some require a chest X-ray more urgently than others. People with a chest injury are asked to get a chest X-ray done immediately. It’s important to treat injuries as early as possible, a chest x-ray helps doctors decide the severity of the injury.

Chest pain is another sign that the person needs to get a chest X-ray done as early as possible. Chest pain is quite well-known to be a huge red herring of heart disease or problems. It could also be an underlying heart attack. This is why a chest X-ray can prove to be so useful to doctors. Doctors know what a chest X-ray shows about your heart and can ascertain the condition of the heart better.

3. What Does a Chest X-ray Show About Your Heart to the Doctor?

Chest X-rays allow doctors to look at images of the circulatory and respiratory systems. It even shows the bones of the chest and spine. Besides this, it also shows the existence of any fluid buildup in the lungs or the surrounding area.

Quite possibly the most common reason for getting a chest X-ray done is when the patient reports chest pain. Other common reasons are shortness of breath or a potential chest injury. Getting a chest X-ray can also be daunting for some because it can reveal several underlying issues. Some of those issues can be broken ribs, emphysema, or even cancer.

While it may rightfully scare some, it’s still imperative to get it done. It also helps us understand what a chest X-ray shows about your heart better.

4. Why are Chest X-rays Done? What do Chest X-rays Show About Your Heart?

What does a chest X-ray show about your heart?
By Ali Hajiluyi/Unsplash copywrites 2021

A doctor is almost always guaranteed to recommend a chest X-ray in case of any heart or lung disease. A chest X-ray shows your heart which a lot of other tests simply cannot achieve. It detects problems like fractures or even decides if a pacemaker or a catheter is a requirement.

4.1. Size & Outline

This is done because any change in the shape and size of the heart could indicate heart failure. It could also indicate issues like problems in the heart’s valve or the buildup of fluid in the cardiac region.

4.2. Blood Vessels

Blood vessels are also what a chest X-ray shows about your heart. A chest X-ray can show the pulmonary arteries and veins with scary accuracy. This helps detect problems like aortic aneurysms or even congenital heart disease.

4.3. Calcium

A chest X-ray can also detect calcium in the heart or blood vessels. This is a massive red flag most doctors worry over. The presence of calcium could indicate damaged heart valves, vessel blockage, or even some sort of infection.

5. X-Ray Post Operation

It is common practice for doctors to make their patients go through a chest X-ray before chest surgery. Looking at lines or tubes to check for fluid and air leaks is something a chest X-ray shows about your heart.

A lot of people want to know what a chest X-ray shows about your heart, and rightfully so. But it also says a lot about the condition of the lungs. It can detect collapsed lungs, emphysema, infections, and even cystic fibrosis.

What does a chest X-ray show about your heart?
By Jonathan Borba/Unsplash copywrites 2022

6. Concerns of Radiation

There is some obvious hesitation with chest X-rays. Using radiation to scan the internal human body is concerning to a lot of people.

Despite the concerns, a chest X-ray uses small amounts of radiation. Patients can also consult with their doctors to come up with a decision.

Radiation is also essentially what allows the chest X-ray machine to show your heart and the surrounding respiratory and circulatory systems.

Today, chest X-rays are one of the most common tests conducted in every healthcare facility. It is widely trusted by both doctors and patients.

I'm a student majoring in Mass Communication and I've always had a penchant for following all things fitness. Whether it's going down rabbit holes on exercise regimes or looking up every nutritional detail in every meal, I love to research…

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