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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
ECG
heart health
Heart Health
Common Medical Tests To Diagnose Heart Conditions

Overview

Our heart is working 24 hours a day round the clock pumping blood and oxygen along with all the organs of your body. Being the important muscle of the body, your heart needs proper supervision and care. Improper care of your heart can lead to many serious problems.

The modern medical system has a cure for almost all types of diseases. There are also a series of tests to diagnose the issues related to your heart too. In this article, we are going to understand some of the common medical tests and their procedures to diagnose heart health.

Angiogram 

An angiogram is the most common medical test used to diagnose the risks and defects associated with the heart and its parts. An angiogram is mainly used to check blocked or narrowed blood vessels in your heart. 

What are the types of Angiogram?

  1. Coronary Angiogram:

A coronary angiogram is usually performed during or after a heart attack. This test is also performed if there is a blockage in blood flowing to the heart. It includes X-ray imaging to observe the heart’s blood vessels.

During this procedure, a dye visible to the X-ray machine is injected into your artery and a series of images are taken by the X-ray machine known as angiograms

With the help of these angiograms, the doctor analyses the health of your heart and blockage in the arteries. If necessary, the doctor can open blocked arteries during this procedure.

  1. Coronary Computed Tomography Angiogram (CCTA): 

The coronary computed tomography angiogram is a type of angiogram that uses iodine-containing contrast material and CT scan to determine narrowed arteries to the heart.

The image created by this test is used to generate a three-dimensional image for further examination. The contrast material used in CCTA can sometimes cause allergies. Tell your doctor about all the medications and allergies you are possessing.

Electrocardiogram(ECG)

An electrocardiogram or ECG is a painless test carried out to record the electrical activity of your heart.  Sensors attached to the skin are used to evaluate the health of your heart by producing signals. These signals are observed by your doctor to see any unusualness in the heart.

There are electrical impulses in our heart for supporting blood flow. An ECG records these electrical impulses to measure our heartbeat rate. It is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to diagnose your heart. 

When should you need an ECG?

Your doctor may recommend you to have an ECG test under certain specific cases as follows:  

  1. Arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythm.
  2. Evaluate health problems related to your heart such as tiredness, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, and breathing trouble.
  3. Determine the overall heart’s condition after surgery, medical procedure, previous heart attack, or other heart-related problems.
  4. Analyze the working of an implanted pacemaker
  5. Check if the heart has any trouble due to coronary artery diseases.
  6. Palpitations (sudden observable heartbeats)

The test generally involves sticky sensors usually attached to your chest, arm, or legs which records your heart’s electrical impulses. These tests only last for a few minutes and sometimes they can vary depending upon the condition of the patient. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI):

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a scanning procedure that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to generate images inside the body, especially the heart. An MRI is used to take static or moving images of your heart.

An MRI scanner is a large tube-like structure containing powerful magnets. During the procedure, the patient needs to lie flat on the table. The scan lasts from 15 to 90 minutes depending upon the images taken. 

Is MRI harmful?

MRI scanning is a painless and safe procedure. It does not involve any radiation. A special dye is injected for the visibility of the heart and arteries during the scanning. It is very important to stay still during the entire procedure. 

The test results give a clear idea about your heart, it is working, and problems or defects associated with it. An MRI  scan is not recommended in specific situations. For example, if you are having a pacemaker or a metal joint, then you won’t be allowed to do MRI scanning.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are an important procedure in determining one’s heart health, mainly after having critical conditions like a heart attack. During a heart attack, your heart muscles can get damaged and your heart releases toxic substances into the bloodstream.

Does blood test detect heart problems?

The answer is yes. Blood tests are a common and widely used method to detect the toxicity in blood and thus determines heart health. Blood tests are used to determine the level of toxic or foreign substances in your bloodstream released by the heart and thus it shows how much damage has been occurred to the heart. 

Most commonly, blood tests after a heart attack are used to determine the level of troponin in your blood. A very high level of troponin content indicates that a heart attack has occurred. About 12 hours after a heart attack, most patients who possessed heart attacks to have a high level of troponin in their blood.

Blood tests are also used to determine other factors in such as blood fats and minerals. A high level of bad cholesterol in your blood is a sign that you are at risk of having heart attacks. 

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a common procedure, which involves using sound waves o produce a clear image of your heart. This test allows your doctor to see the heartbeat and pumping blood by your heart.

This procedure involves the usage of a probe. The probe is usually placed in your chest or sometimes in your esophagus. The resulting images produced by echocardiogram allow your doctor to identify the problems related to your heart, its chambers, or arteries. 

What are the most common types of Echocardiogram?

Depending upon the health condition you are possessing or the information your doctor needs, you may undergo several types of echocardiograms. An echocardiogram is mainly classified into: 

  1. Transthoracic Echocardiogram:

 Transthoracic Echocardiogram is the most commonly used type. During a TTE, your medical expert uses a small device called a transducer. The transducer is moved to different parts of the chest to obtain a clear picture of the heart.

  1. Transesophageal Echocardiogram:

 If your medical expert needs a more clear image of your heart or when it is difficult to obtain an image of the heart with a normal echocardiogram, you may be recommended to undergo a Transesophageal Echocardiogram.

  1. Stress Echocardiogram: 

Ultrasound images of your heart are taken when you are at rest. Then your medical expert advises you to undergo a physical activity and again an ultrasound image is taken and compared with the previous one. If you are not able to exercise, then an injection is given which boosts your heartbeat.

Chest X-Ray

Using an X-Ray device, pictures of your internal organs such as lungs, heart, and blood vessels are taken. These pictures are further examined to see if there is any sign of heart failure or risks.

A chest X-Ray, also known as a radiograph is focused beams of radiation. The pictures obtained from the procedure look like a negative image of a black and white photograph. 

When do you need a chest x-ray?

Your health expert will advise you to undergo a chest x-ray if you are possessing or having the signs of the following conditions such as: 

  1. Chest pain
  2. Chronic cough 
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Fever along with other infections
  5. Congestive heart failure
  6. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases

For your life beat to go on, you need a healthy heart. It is always advised to consult a cardiologist if you have any issues or doubts related to your heart health.

04 Sep 2021
angiogram
ECG
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