How Does Electrocardiogram Work?

Electrocardiogram, also known as EKG or ECG, is a test that diagnoses problems using the electrical activities of the heart. It translates the electrical activities into line tracings on paper. These lines consist of spikes and dips which are collectively known as “waves”.

The human heart is a muscular pump consists of four chambers. The two upper chambers are the “atria” while the two lower chambers are the “ventricles”. Natural electrical system causes the muscles of the heart to contract and pump blood through the heart towards the lungs and all the remaining parts of the body.

What is Electrocardiogram For?
The electrocardiogram test is used to check if there are any problems in the body related to the activities of the heart. A person can undergo ECG to:

1. Know the cause of unexplainable chest pains

2. Check the electrical activity of the heart

3. Check if the walls of the heart chambers are already too thick

4. Know the cause of symptoms of heart disease such as dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, and palpitations

5. Check if the medicines are working or causing side effects affecting the heart

6. Inspect the functioning of mechanical devices implanted in the heart

7. Check the health of the heart when other conditions or diseases are present

What are the Preparations that must be done before Having an ECG?
Before undergoing an ECG, make sure to tell your doctor about all the prescription and nonprescription medicines that you take because most medicines may alter the results of the test. If you are taking medicines for the heart, your doctor will tell you how to take them before having an ECG.

The doctor will also ask you to remove all pieces of jewelry from your arms, wrists and neck. Men should take off their upper garments before the test while women may wear a bra, t-shirt or gown. Take off the stockings if you are wearing any. The doctor will hand you a cloth or paper covering that you can use during the test.
If you have any concerns about the procedure, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.

How is ECG done?
Health professionals carry out an ECG test and doctors interpret the results. During an ECG test, you will be asked to lie on a bed or table. Also, you will be asked to lie very still and breathe at a normal pace during the test. Sometimes, the health practitioner may ask you to hold your breath. Remember that you should not speak during the test to avoid changes in the results.

Small metal discs will be placed on areas on your arms, legs and chest. Special ECG paste may be placed between the electrodes and the skin to improve the conduction of electrical impulses. Several electrodes will be attached to the skin and these are hooked to the machine which will trace your heart activity on paper. After the test, the electrode paste will be wiped off.

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