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What is an EKG? | Diseases and conditions: Medical tests.

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Electrocardiogram

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a diagnostic test that assesses the rhythm and cardiac function through a record of the electrical activity of the heart.
The heart beats because it emit electrical signals that arise from the right atrium (in a structure called the sinus node) and are transmitted by a few specific routes which are distributed by all the heart, leading to the heart beat. This electrical activity may be collected through electrodes that stick in the skin, specifically in the front part of the chest and arms and legs.
Electrical impulses They are recorded in the form of lines or curves on a graph paper, which translate the contraction or relaxation of the Atria and the ventricles. This record is what is called electrocardiogram.

When do an electrocardiogram?

There are many problems, both cardiac and non-cardiac, which alter the electrical currents from the heart and which can be diagnosed with an electrocardiogram. Usually ask for an EKG in the following situations:
If chest pain or other symptoms that suggest an angina pectoris or myocardial infarction.
In the event of suspicion of cardiac arrhythmias.
In the study of suspicion of other cardiac problems such as pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium, a membrane that surrounds the heart), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle or myocardium), problems of the heart valves, heart failure, etc.
In persons carrying pacemaker, to evaluate the performance of the device.
Some lung pathologies and lung embolism, in which a thrombus, which usually occurs in the legs, migrates to the lung and obstructs a blood vessel. This pathology can have a reflection in the heart and is suspected with an electrocardiogram.
In disorders of ions such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc, as its alteration is also reflected in an EKG.
Finally, calls an electrocardiogram before surgery to assess the function of the heart.

Preparation for an electrocardiogram

These are the issues that you must consider when you undergo an electrocardiogram:
Duration: the test is performed in about two or three minutes. Which takes more time is to place the electrodes on the chest, ankles and wrists.
Entry: test can be done on an outpatient basis.
Is necessary to be accompanied?: don't have to be accompanied by, although it might help if it makes you feel more relaxed.
Drugs: is not necessary to take any prior medication. You can take your usual medication.
Food: don't have to go on fasting.
Clothing: can wear the clothes you want, but something that is easy to remove because it will ask you to leave bare chest, ankles and wrists should be. Nor should carry metal objects (earrings, bracelets, etc.) because they will be asked to remove them during the test.
Documents: can take the previous reports with your health information.
Contraindications: there is no contraindication to the realization of an electrocardiogram.
Pregnancy and lactation: not contraindicate the realization of the test.
Other considerations: it is important that you tell the doctor the medication that you are taking, as some medicines can cause alterations in the ECG. Not do exercise immediately before the test and be as relaxed as possible, because any movement can alter the registry should.

How is an EKG?

The electrocardiogram (ECG) test is absolutely painless.
For its realization the person tomb is face-up on a bed or stretcher. If it does not tolerate being lying at all, will rise the headboard of the bed.
You will be asked you to detach from all metal objects carrying over (watch, bracelets, rings, earrings, coins, belts...), because that can alter the registry.
The technician will put six electrodes, such as patches or stickers, on the left front of the chest, one electrode on each ankle and one on each wrist. A small suction cups are used sometimes instead of stickers. If amputees or persons carrying a plaster cast, sticker is put on the part of the limb that allows it, or in the trunk, as close as possible to the tip. Sometimes it is necessary to clean with alcohol, or even shaving, the area where the stickers are put to facilitate conduction through the electrodes.
Finally, connect a few wires to the electrodes and these to the ECG device. Hard log collection a few seconds that should stay quiet and without talking, although he can breathe normally.
Many times, when patients are under observation or admitted, and it is necessary to carry out several electrocardiograms on the same day, can the stickers do not withdraw and use them in the EKG successive. This helps to compare electrocardiograms, because they have taken the record exactly on the same points. However, if he goes home be removed him the stickers immediately after the completion of the test, or you can withdraw them without problems.

Complications of an electrocardiogram

Electrocardiogram test does not have any kind of complication. Do not pass electrical current through the body. If you have to shave the skin you may notice some small discomfort. On rare occasions, the stickers can give a small irritation on the skin or you may notice some discomfort to withdraw them. You can be a normal life after the race.

Results of an electrocardiogram

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is obtained in a few seconds. However, the interpretation of the record requires specific training and must be performed by a cardiologist, physician or trained medical personnel. Therefore, the test result can be one day after its completion.
Your doctor will inform you about the results of the electrocardiogram and will instruct you if it needs new revisions or performing other procedures. Not all the cardiac pathology are reflected in an EKG.
In the interpretation of the electrocardiogram, the specialist evaluates mainly:
Heart rate, which under normal conditions is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Heart rate, that when it is normal is known as sinus rhythm. It means that the heartbeat originated with normality in the sinus node and has followed the usual way by heart without interruptions or arrhythmias.
The axis of the heart. That is, if the heart is at its usual location with the tip pointing left. Some pathologies may change the axis of the heart to the right or excessively rotate it to the left.
Hypertrophy or growths of the Atria or ventricles.
Signs of lack of irrigation in the heart (ischaemia) which produce characteristic changes in some parts of the layout of the ECG.
Published for educational purposes
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