What is EKG?
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) records electrical signals from the heart to show how the heart works. This non-invasive test simply helps your doctor diagnose various problems. The purpose of EKGs is to diagnose heart problems in different age groups:
- Evaluation of chest pain caused by a heart attack, pericarditis, or angina
- Examination of the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular and rapid heartbeat
- Checking how well medicines are working and whether they lead to side effects
- Checking your heart health for problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes
Table of Contents
- 1 What is EKG?
- 2 What are the Types of ECG?
- 3 What is the Difference between ECG and EKG?
- 4 How does an EKG Diagnose a Heart Attack?
- 5 Can an EKG Detect a Previous Heart Attack?
- 6 What can ECG Detect?
- 7 Why Would I Need An Electrocardiogram?
- 8 How is An ECG Performed?
- 9 How Do You Get Ready for An Electrocardiogram?
- 10 Things to Consider Before the ECG Test
- 11 What Happens During An Electrocardiogram?
- 12 What Happens After An Electrocardiogram?
- 13 Taking Care of Yourself at Home After An ECG
- 14 The ECG Results Interpretation
- 15 Can An ECG Diagnose Long-Term Heart Problems?
- 16 What are The Risks of An Electrocardiogram?
- 17 What are The Other Tests for Heart Problems?
- 18 EKG near me
- 19 FAQs
What are the Types of ECG?
- Resting ECG. This sort of ECG requires you to lie down. A movement may interfere with your heart’s electrical impulses during the test because other muscles produce electrical impulses. This sort of ECG typically takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete.
- Ambulatory ECG. You must use a transportable recorder for at least 24 hours if you have an ambulatory or Holter ECG. While the monitor is mounted, you are free to move about normally. This form of ECG is helpful for persons whose signs are intermittent and may not be seen on a resting ECG and for those recuperating after a heart attack to confirm that their heart is working correctly. You keep a list of your symptoms and write when they happen so that your personal experience may be matched to the ECG.
- Exercise stress test (EST). This test records your ECG when you ride an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill. This sort of ECG takes between 15 and 30 minutes to perform.
What is the Difference between ECG and EKG?
There’s no distinction between an ECG and an EKG. Both relate to the same technique, but one is in English (electrocardiogram – ECG) while the other is in German (elektrokardiogram– EKG). In America, the German “EKG” is commonly used since “ECG” sounds extremely similar to a separate technique called an EEG.
An ECG/EKG is a technique that uses electrodes strategically implanted in the body to capture electrical activity in the heart over time. The 12-lead EKG is the most frequent kind of EKG.
How does an EKG Diagnose a Heart Attack?
An EKG is one of the numerous tests that can assist in the diagnosis of a heart attack. It’s frequently one of the first tests done when someone arrives at the hospital with signs of a heart attack.
Because damaged cardiac tissue disrupts the usual flow of electrical energy all through the heart, an EKG can detect a problem immediately.
An aberrant EKG reading may also indicate diminished blood flow via the coronary arteries, signaling the probability of some heart muscle injury. This is frequently the cause of most heart attacks. An EKG can also detect an irregular cardiac beat, known as an arrhythmia.
If a heart attack is suspected, a blood test is performed in addition to an EKG. Troponins are proteins that are typically released by damaged cardiac tissue. Troponin T and troponin I levels that are very high are frequently indicative of a heart attack.
Can an EKG Detect a Previous Heart Attack?
An EKG might reveal that you suffered a heart attack in previous years without realizing it. Abnormal electrical patterns during the test indicate that a portion of your heart has been destroyed due to a lack of oxygen.
Not all heart attacks have visible symptoms. For example, if you experience a silent heart attack, you may not realize it until you undergo an imaging test, such as an EKG, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound.
An EKG is one tool doctors use to look for signs of past heart attacks, but it works best when paired with other diagnostic tools such as blood testing and imaging. Unfortunately, EKG readings that are false positives are rather prevalent.
One research compared the reliability of an EKG to a cardiac MRI in identifying a prior heart attack. EKGs, according to the researchers, had:
- Poor sensitivity. Compared to an MRI, the EKG only accurately recognized a prior heart attack 48.4 percent of the time.
- Good specificity. The EKG accurately indicated that no prior heart attack had occurred 83.5 percent of the time compared to MRI.
- Positive predictive accuracy. People who had EKG readings that showed they had a heart attack had a 72 percent likelihood of experiencing one.
- Predictive accuracy is negative. People with EKG readings that indicated they had not had a heart attack had a 64.2 percent chance of not having had one.
The EKG findings’ low sensitivity and weak negative predictive accuracy show that EKG alone might not be the best technique to identify a prior heart attack.
What can ECG Detect?
An ECG is frequently utilized with other tests to help diagnose and monitor cardiac problems.
It can be used to look into signs of cardiac disease, including chest discomfort, palpitations (rapid heartbeats), dizziness, and shortness of breath. In addition, an ECG can aid in the detection of:
- Arrhythmias. Where the heartbeat is too sluggish, too fast, or abnormal
- Coronary heart disease. Where the blood flow to the heart is obstructed or disrupted by a buildup of fatty substances.
- Heart attacks. When the blood flow to the heart is suddenly cut off.
- Cardiomyopathy. Where the heart’s walls thicken or increase.
A series of ECGs can also be obtained over time to monitor a person who has previously been diagnosed with a cardiac problem or is receiving medications that may affect the heart.
Why Would I Need An Electrocardiogram?
Your doctor may order an electrocardiogram (ECG) for a variety of reasons, including:
- To determine the source of chest pain.
- Assess heart-related issues, including extreme weariness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting.
- Detecting irregular heartbeats
- An assessment of heart health before surgery, treatment for heart attacks and endocarditis, or after cardiac surgery or catheterization is important.
- To examine how a pacemaker implanted works.
- To assess the efficacy of various cardiac medications.
- During a physical exam, a baseline tracing of the heart’s function is obtained; this may then be compared to subsequent ECGs to see whether there have been any changes.
Your doctor may also order an ECG for other reasons.
How is An ECG Performed?
There are various methods for performing an ECG. The exam often entails attaching several tiny, sticky sensors known as electrodes to your arms, legs, and chest. Wires link them to ECG recording equipment.
It isn’t necessary for you to do anything particular to prepare for the exam. You can eat and normally drink before the procedure.
You will generally need to remove your top garments before the electrodes are connected, and you may need to shave or clean your chest. Once the technician puts the electrodes in their place, you may be given a hospital gown to wear.
The exam typically takes a few minutes, and you should be allowed to go home or return to the ward if you’re already there.
How Do You Get Ready for An Electrocardiogram?
- Your doctor will describe the test and allow you to ask questions.
- Fasting (not eating) is not typically required before the test.
- Inform your doctor about all medications (including prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbs, and supplements you are using.
- If you use a pacemaker, tell your doctor and ask about possible risks.
- Your doctor may suggest further preparation based on your health condition.
Things to Consider Before the ECG Test
If your healthcare physician or cardiologist orders an ECG, you usually do not need specific tests or treatments to prepare for it. If time, room, and equipment are available, you may have it directly in the healthcare provider’s office. Depending on the cause of your ECG, your healthcare professional may advise you to cease taking some of your medications for a day or two before the test.
Expect an ECG to take an additional 10 to 15 minutes if it is part of a doctor’s appointment. Because of the registration and check-in process, you should expect the ECG to take longer when you have a memorable visit.
A healthcare provider may perform an ECG in your office, sometimes in the same exam room where you are seeing the provider. There may be a separate space in your healthcare provider’s clinic where you can have your test.
What to Wear
For electrodes to be placed on your chest, you must change into a hospital gown. If your necklaces or chains dangle or get in the way, you may be asked to remove them, but metal jewelry will not cause electrical interference.
Food and Drink
You are free to eat or drink anything you wish before your exam. However, if your doctor is concerned that you have an abnormally fast heartbeat, you may be urged to avoid caffeine for six to ten hours before the test.
Cost and Health Insurance
A medical insurance plan usually covers an ECG, but exceptions exist. It might be a good idea to check your benefits beforehand if you have a health insurance plan which does not cover the test or if your program provides minimal coverage. Call the number on your insurance card to find out if you need to pay a copay for this procedure.
What to Bring
A form of identification, your health insurance card, and payment method should be brought with you when you go for your ECG.
What Happens During An Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) can be performed as an outpatient procedure or as part of a hospital stay. Steps may differ based on your health and the procedures of your doctor. In general, an ECG goes through the following steps:
- You will be asked to remove any jewelry or anything that might interfere with the exam.
- The procedure will require you to strip down to your underwear. The technician will protect your privacy by covering you with a sheet or robe and exposing just the necessary skin.
- For the exam, you will lie flat on a table or bed. It would help if you remained calm and did not speak throughout the ECG to avoid altering the trace.
- A technician may shave or clip tiny areas of hair on your chest, arms, or legs to help the electrodes connect to your skin if you have a lot of hair.
- Your chest, arms, and legs will be fitted with electrodes.
- The electrodes will be connected to the lead cables.
- Once the connections are connected, the technician may enter your personal information into the machine’s computer.
- The ECG will be performed. The tracing will be done in a matter of minutes.
- The operator will stop the connection of the leads and remove the skin electrodes after the tracing is finished.
What Happens After An Electrocardiogram?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should be able to resume your usual diet and activities. No particular care is required following an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Inform your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms you experienced before the ECG (for instance, pain in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting). Depending on your specific case, your doctor may provide additional advice following the test.
Taking Care of Yourself at Home After An ECG
You can continue regular activities immediately following an ECG. An ECG is non-invasive, does not require drugs (such as sedatives), and does not necessitate recuperation time.
The ECG Results Interpretation
The electrical data generated by the electrodes are analyzed to determine the electrical activity of the heart from 12 various angles, each of which displays a separate trace. Your healthcare professional may learn a lot about the state of your heart by looking at any anomalies on the ECG and which leads they are coming from. However, it takes several months of training and experience to learn to interpret an ECG and spot these patterns.
A trace is made up of successive waves with the same form. The waves are divided into components known as the P wave, QRS complex, ST segment, and T wave. A PR interval exists between both the P wave and the QRS complex, as well as a QT interval between both the QRS complex and the T wave.
Changes in the height, breadth, and length of these waves and the intervals between them are connected with various situations. A shorter QT interval, for example, might indicate high blood calcium levels. 3
Your ECG report may describe the wave pattern, but it is unlikely to include a detailed explanation of your cardiac disease. Therefore, your healthcare professional should consider your symptoms and medical history when establishing whether or not you have a cardiac issue.
Your results will be explained to you by your healthcare provider. In addition, an ECG can provide a variety of information, including:
- Rhythm disturbances in the heart, such as premature cardiac complexes or atrial fibrillation
- A bundle branch block, for example, is a conduction abnormality caused by issues with how electrical impulses spread across your heart.
- Heart attack signs/symptoms that may indicate an ongoing or previous myocardial infarction
- Angina symptoms, such as stable angina or unstable angina, are indicators of severe coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy refers to abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.
- Bragada syndrome and other congenital electrical anomalies
- Electrolyte imbalances, notably high or low potassium, calcium, or magnesium levels
- Heart abnormalities that are present from birth
- Infections of the heart, including pericarditis, a condition of the protective tissue that surrounds the heart
Can An ECG Diagnose Long-Term Heart Problems?
The findings of your ECG will determine whether or not you require therapy. In addition, ECG can be used to identify a variety of cardiac issues, including:
- Expansion of the heart
- Congenital cardiac abnormalities impacting the electrical (conducting) system
- Arrhythmia (abnormal cardiac rhythm) – fast, slow, or irregular heartbeats
- Cardiac damage, including when one of the heart’s arteries becomes clogged (coronary occlusion)
- A lack of blood flow to the heart
- Heart in an odd posture
- Inflammation of the heart – pericarditis or myocarditis
- Cardiac arrest while in the emergency room or intensive care unit
- Abnormalities in the conducting system of the heart
- Chemical imbalances in the blood (electrolytes) that influence cardiac function
- Prior heart attacks
If the problem does not disrupt the heart’s electrical activity, a person with cardiac disease may have a typical ECG result. If the cardiac disease is suspected, other diagnostic procedures may be suggested. Discuss with your doctor the best therapy for your cardiac disease and how to self-manage.
What are The Risks of An Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a rapid and uncomplicated tool to examine the heart’s function. The risks connected with ECG are minor and uncommon.
Removing the adhesive electrodes after the ECG may be painful, but you will not feel anything during the procedure. In addition, if the electrode patches are kept on for an extended period, they may induce tissue disintegration or skin discomfort.
Other dangers may exist based on your medical condition. Before the test, share any concerns you have with your doctor.
Certain circumstances or diseases might interfere with or influence the ECG findings. Among these include, but are not limited to:
- Abdominal fluid accumulation (ascites)
- Anatomical variables such as chest size and position of the heart within the chest
- Movement during the examination
- Before the exam, you should either exercise or smoke.
- Certain medications
- A blood electrolyte imbalance caused by excess or insufficient potassium, magnesium, or calcium
What are The Other Tests for Heart Problems?
- Other tests that can be used to identify cardiac issues include:
- Inspection of the body (listening to heart sounds)
- X-rays of the chest
- Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart)
- MRI or CT scans
- Blood examinations
- Catheterization of the heart (inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin or wrist, which leads to the heart).
EKG near me
If you live in Las Vegas and are unable to go to medical centers for diagnostic tests such as ECG, we can perform this test with high accuracy at your home.
You can get information about other Home Health services.
What is the difference between an ECG and an EKG?
There’s no distinction between an ECG and an EKG.
Can an EKG detect a blockage?
No, an ECG will not reveal any blockages.
How long does an EKG test take?
The examination typically lasts 5 to 10 minutes.