Your Complete Guide to EKG Tests
It’s no secret that heart disease is the number one cause of death of Americans, and an EKG is a simple test to help determine problems with the heart that could lead to a heart attack. While today’s patients have more access to information about heart healthy living than ever before, there are still a disturbing number of deaths attributed to heart disease. It is important to note that although an EKG cannot always predict a pending heart attack, it is still a very important tool to determine your heart health.
The Centers for Disease Control has compiled some disturbing heart disease statistics:
• One in every four deaths in the United States is the result of heart disease.
• Roughly 610,000 people die of a heart attack each year.
• Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.
• Heart disease kills more than 370,000 people each year.
• Each year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack—and for 525,000 of them, this is their first heart attack.
• Because those with heart attack symptoms don’t get timely help, roughly 47 percent of deaths occur outside of a hospital
As always, early intervention is vital to treat heart disease before an attack occurs. An EKG is an important diagnostic tool we use to discover an arrhythmia, or irregularity in the electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat.
What is an EKG test and how is it performed?
EKG stands for electrocardiogram and you may have also heard it referred to as an ECG. This test measures heart rhythm by monitoring impulses through small electrodes, which are placed on your arms, legs and chest. These electrodes receive electrical signals that are transmitted to the EKG machine, which then records the result.
What happens during an EKG?
An EKG is painless, noninvasive, and we perform it in our office.
How do I prepare for an EKG test?
Our doctor will give specific instructions depending upon your individual situation, but in general, there are no special preparations for an EKG test.
What do the readings from an EKG mean?
At first glance, the results of your EKG look like nothing more than wavy lines on paper. However, to our physicians, each of those lines provides important information about how your heart is functioning. They can help us determine:
• If you have an irregular heartbeat
• If you have tachycardia (an abnormally fast heart rate) or bradycardia (an abnormally slow heartbeat)
What do the wavy lines on my EKG readings mean?
Electrical activity from the heart’s contraction creates the wavy lines on your EKG. Our physicians examine critical points on these results. Think of the lines on your EKG as a roadmap, and our doctors look for various segments and intervals, which are like signposts and directions that dictate the “journey” through these electrical pathways. The doctor will assess the time it takes an impulse to travel through your heart.
What are the other heart tests available besides an EKG?
There are several different types of tests that measure heart rhythm. According to The Mayo Clinic, the most common include:
• A Holter monitor
This is a portable device that records a continuous EKG, and it must be worn for 24 to 48 hours.
• An event monitor
This is similar to the Holter monitor, but it only records a few minutes at a time. You activate it by pressing a record button any time you have symptoms.
• Stress test (“treadmill test”)
During this test you walk on a treadmill or participate in some type of activity to see how your heart reacts to exercise. (You can read more information on this in our earlier blog article, “What is a Stress Test and How Do You Know if You Need One?”)
We offer medical management for those who are at risk of heart disease
High cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure can all dramatically increase your risk of a heart attack. For more than 40 years we’ve helped patients live healthier lives by assisting them with everything from nutrition to long-term lifes