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Heart Health
ECG – Everything You Need To Know

Overview

An electrocardiogram records electrical signals of your heart. It is a painless medical test usually used to test the health of your heart. It is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to diagnose your heart too.

There are electrical impulses in our heart for supporting blood flow. An ECG records these electrical impulses to measure our heartbeat rate. In this article, we are going to discuss everything about ECG including its procedures and risks.

When do you need an ECG?

Your doctor might advise you to undergo an electrocardiogram due to a variety of reasons such as:

  • Arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythm.
  • To evaluate health problems related to your heart such as tiredness, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, and breathing trouble.
  • To determine the overall heart’s condition after surgery, medical procedure, previous heart attack, or other heart-related problems.
  • To analyze the working of an implanted pacemaker
  • To check if the heart has any trouble due to coronary artery diseases.

Besides, there can also be many other reasons that your doctor may advise you to have an ECG test. ECG is not recommended for those who don’t have any symptoms. But if you are having any family history related to your heart, then you may be suggested to undergo an ECG test.

In some cases, your symptoms may not be present at the time of an ECG recording. In such cases, your doctor may suggest you have continuous ECG monitoring. Some of the methods used for continuous ECG monitoring include.

  1. Holter monitor: 

A Holter monitor is a type of portable ECG, which can be used to monitor the heart’s activity continuously for over 24 to 48 hours.

  1. Event monitor: 

An event monitor is also a portable ECG more like a Holter monitor. But it does not record your heartbeat continuously. There is a switch attached to the event monitor. You can press the switch and activate it when you feel any symptoms or discomfort.  an event monitor can be used continuously for about 30 days.

What are the risks associated?

Every medical procedure has risks in some way or other. ECG is very safe. The chances of risks are minimal and rare. An ECG procedure includes electrodes. These electrodes when left for too long can cause skin irritation and tissue breakdown.

You may also feel discomfort while removing the electrodes as they are sticky. In some cases, people also feel skin rashes. But it is temporary and lasts for very few minutes. An ECG doesn’t emit any electrical signals or impulses, it just analyzes your heart’s electrical signals. So it is generally a very safe test to be performed.

What are the common errors of an ECG?

Many factors influence the results of an ECG test. Some of these may include:

  • Obesity
  • Exercises before the test
  • Smoking
  • Movements during the test
  • Pregnancy
  • Consumption of certain medicines

Besides all the above-mentioned factors, lot more factors can contribute to an inaccurate reading of an ECG including those caused by computer readings and pacemakers. 

How to prepare for an ECG test?

Before doing an electrocardiogram test, your doctor will explain about the test and there you can ask your doubts about the test. It is very important to tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking as certain medicines can affect your test results.

Avoid drinking cold water before the test as cold water can affect the electrical patterns of your heart. It is also recommended that you should avoid engaging in exercises or other physical activities. This can increase your heartbeat rate and can influence the test results too.

Generally fasting is not required before the test. Tell your doctor if you are having a pacemaker. Besides these, depending upon your health condition you may be advised for other preparations too.

What happens during an ECG?

An Electrocardiogram test usually follows the following procedure. 

  1. You may be asked to remove any jewelry or other accessories from your body
  2. You will be asked to remove clothes from the upper waist. Your health expert will ensure your privacy by covering you with cloth, exposing only the required part for the procedure.
  3. Now you will have to lie flat on the table. Make sure to avoid any movement during the procedure as it can lead to misreading of the result.
  4. If your chest, arms, or legs are hairy, then the technician will shave your hair those body parts to ensure that the electrodes stick perfectly.
  5. Now the electrodes are attached to your chest, arms, or legs
  6. During the ECG procedure, the functioning of your heart is fully monitored. 
  7. Make sure that you breathe normally.
  8. It will only take very little time for a standard ECG test and after completing the test the electrodes are removed.

What happens after an ECG test?

After doing an Electrocardiogram test you can resume your normal life. You should follow any routine or procedures after the test if you are advised by your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have skin itching or irritation even after a long time of the procedure.

Generally, there are no particular steps to be followed in terms of routine after the test. The treatments and medications after the test depend upon your health condition and test result. . After analyzing your test, your doctor may contact you if you are having any serious health issues such as:

  1. Unusual heart rate: In normal cases, our pulse indicates the rate of our heartbeat. But in some cases, it is very difficult to analyze your pulse. In such cases, an ECG test may be very helpful. Your doctor may inform you if you are having a fast heart rate(tachycardia) or slow heart rate (bradycardia).
  1. Heart attack: An ECG is very effective in detecting previous heart attacks or the one in breakthrough. ECG tests can also determine which part of your heart is mutilated and the severity of the attack.
  1. Formation defects: There can be cases where your heart or parts of your heart having physical abnormalities. An ECG gives your physical expert an idea about the defects of your heart or the parts associated with it.
  1.  Insufficient blood supply: Our body needs enough amount of blood as well as oxygen for proper functioning. Amount of blood lower than usual is a serious problem to take into consideration. An ECG test helps your doctor to determine if the problem associated with your heart is due to insufficient blood supply.

It is advised to consult a cardiologist if you are having any heart-related issues. For your life beat to go on, you need a healthy heart. For a healthy heart, you taking care of your heart is necessary. 

04 Sep 2021
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