An electrocardiogram, also known as ECG/EKG, records the electrical signals in the heart. This is a completely painless test that is used to monitor heart health and detect any cardiovascular problems. ECG/EKG is often done in a hospital room, a clinic, or a doctor’s office. ECG/EKG devices are fairly standard and are found in ambulances and operating rooms. Today, smartwatches and other personal devices have in-built features that provide ECG monitoring.
What is ECG/EKG Used for?
ECG/EKG is used to diagnose common heart problems in people of all ages. Doctors use it to determine and detect:
- Inadequate oxygen and blood supply to the heart: Just like a sleep oxygen monitor, ECG/EKG carried out on a patient with symptoms can help the doctor know if chest pains are caused by reduced blood flow or reduced oxygen supply.
- Structural abnormalities: An ECG/EKG can offer clues about heart defects, enlargement of the walls or heart chambers, and other heart problems. If narrowed or blocked arteries in a patient’s body (coronary artery disease) are causing a heart attack or chest pains.
- Heart rhythm: ECG/EKG can show abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). These conditions occur when a particular part of the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. They might also be caused by medications such as cocaine, amphetamines, beta-blockers, allergy and cold drugs, and more.
- Heart rate: Doctors can easily check the heart rate by checking one’s pulse. An ECG/EKG is helpful when the pulse is difficult to feel or is too irregular or fast to count accurately. It helps the doctor identify unusually slow heart rate (bradycardia) or unusually fast heart rate (tachycardia).
- Heart attack: EGG/EKG can accurately show evidence of an earlier heart attack or one that is in progress.
- Efficacy of pacemakers: How well heart diseases treatments, like pacemaker, are working.
A doctor may decide to use ECG/EKG is a patient who has the following symptoms:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid pulse
- Fatigue, weakness, or a decline in the ability to workout.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or confusion.
- Types of ECG/EKG test
There are different types of ECG/EKG tests. They include:
- Holter monitor: This is a portable EKG/EKG heart monitor that measures the electrical activity of your heart for 1-2 days, 24 hours every day. A Holter monitor is highly recommended for patients with abnormal heart rhythms, those with palpitations, and those who don’t have enough blood flow to their heart muscles.
- Event monitor: This is a device that is recommended for patients who get symptoms now and then. Once you push a button, this device records, and stores your heart’s electrical activity for some time. Based on your condition, you may need to wear it for weeks or even months.
- Signal-averaged electrocardiogram: This device checks to see if a patient is getting a condition known as heart arrhythmia, which could result in a heart attack. This device is similar to a standard ECG/EKG, but it uses advanced technology to analyze the risk.
- Portable monitor – A personal ECG/EKG heart monitor can be used to spot-check heart rhythms on the go. While these devices cannot offer continuous monitoring, they are used to check in 30-second, 60-second, and 5-minute intervals.