Jeffrey Hill
Faculty Feature | 5/8/2024

Seeing the Body’s Engine with Echocardiography

By Jennifer Persons

Jeffrey Hill

In the 13th episode of the MCPHS Bicentennial Podcast, The Secret to Living to 200, Jeffrey Hill explains the technology behind cardiac ultrasound and its critical diagnostic capabilities.

The first time Jeffrey Hill, MSc, ACS, FASE, saw a cardiac ultrasound, he was mesmerized. Not only did it show images of the heart, but it also showed its complex functions in real time. He became an echocardiographer to better understand this awe-inspiring system.

Hill has worked as both a clinician and educator, sharing the power of echocardiography with patients and students. He has seen heart conditions in patients of all ages and is dedicated to ensuring echocardiographers are an integral part of a healthcare team.

Cardiovascular diseases affect people around the world, and Hill is working on ways to increase access to this lifesaving technology. He helped develop a robotic lung ultrasound with engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), hoping to send it to patients who aren’t within traveling distance of a healthcare provider. The team has high hopes for the possibilities of this device.

Listen to Episode 13 and every episode of The Secret to Living to 200 on our Bicentennial website or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Three Things to Know About Echocardiography:

1. Echocardiography is synonymous with cardiac ultrasound.

While people may associate ultrasound with pregnancy, there are many other types of ultrasound sonographers can use to view different parts of the body. Cardiac ultrasound is one of them. Echocardiographers use an ultrasound machine to see the cardiovascular system, analyzing its structures and functions in real time.

2. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.

The American Heart Association says this stat has been true for more than a century. Heart disease was responsible for the deaths of nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. in 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hill says heart disease comes in all shapes and sizes, and echocardiographers play an important role in not only diagnosing the condition, but also working with other providers on a treatment plan.

3. It uses Doppler, just like meteorology, to see blood flow.

Just like Doppler radar can detect the structure of weather storms, cardiac ultrasound uses the same technique to detect the velocity—or distance over time—and direction of blood flow. Echocardiographers can then convert blood flow to pressure in both the heart and lungs, allowing the noninvasive study of different areas in the cardiovascular system.

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