What is Electrocardiogram and How Does It Work?

Updated on March 21, 2019

Family members who have lost someone from a heart attack know how important it is to gather accurate medical data about a person’s overall health status. Being able to access this information is imperative so that the patient and their family members can prepare for the proper steps to take in order to avoid any further aggravation of the patient’s heart condition and/or avert sudden death due to unexpected heart malfunction.

According to a recent study led by AHA, one woman is killed by stroke and heart disease for about every 80 seconds. This is alarming information that requires everyone to pay close attention to their body by making healthy choices. In cases like these, we cannot help but thank the advance technology we have nowadays as it has brought many technological benefits for both patients and medical experts alike through the advent of several medical devices that can be utilised in helping other patients when recuperating from terminal diseases. An electrocardiogram is one particular example of the many medical devices that have shown to be revolutionary in saving many lives. It’s important to find a trusted local medical equipment supplier when buying ECG equipment and other accessories and they can help medical practitioners like you choose something that will be fit for purpose.

What is Electrocardiogram?

Electrocardiogram, or commonly referred to as ECG or EKG, is the test utilised in recording the electrical activity in the heart by placing electrodes at specific points on the skin whereby a composite recording is made in the form of a graph. This medical technique is proven to be very effective in gathering and producing concrete data of the heart’s activity, helping many patients recuperate and live a longer life with their loved ones.

Basically, an electrocardiogram is utilised to check the human heart’s function; it is commonly conducted as an initial examination for patients having chest pain or even shortness of breath as symptoms. Electrocardiogram aids in ascertaining whether the pain suffered by the patient is due to the presence of an acute myocardial infarction or because of the narrowing of blood vessels to the heart muscle. If your physician advised you that you will be undergoing this medical examination, he is looking for two possible major types of information from your heart:

Person Using Black Blood Pressure Monitor

1. Heart’s Activity

Your physician can ascertain your heart’s activity by determining how long the electrical wave travels through the heart by counting the intervals on the ECG. Your heart’s activity can be categorized whether it’s normal, fast, slow, or irregular. In cases of bradycardia, the heart rate generated by the SA nodes is normally less than 50 beats per minute which is remain lower than a normal heart rate. As for tachycardia, the SA node has a heart rate faster than 100 beat per minute which is more than a normal heart rate.

2. The second form of information is ascertained by assessing the extent of electrical activity travelling through the heart muscle. This type of ECG helps your cardiologist evaluate if your heart or any part of it is enlarged or is exhausted.

How Does Electrocardiogram Work

An electrocardiogram is a medical tool mostly utilised by cardiologists in examining the electrical and muscular functions of the human heart. By analyzing the components of the waveform of the activity in the heart, medical experts were able to assess if there’s any abnormality in the way your heart works. Electrocardiogram involves the observation of P-wave forms, assessment of rhythm, measurement of ECG intervals and segments, calculation of heart rate, and the ascertainment of other relevant waves.

An electrocardiogram is fairly simple and it is known for its noninvasive nature. No pain or any form of risk is associated with it as the procedure merely records the heart’s activity and no actual electricity is felt in the body during the whole medical test. The only crucial part of the procedure is the actual act of analysing the electrocardiogram tracing or the results yielded by the test as this part requires an expert’s medical proficiency.

During the examination, your physician will attach ten electrodes through their adhesive pads on your body. These electrodes are placed on different parts of the body to detect and record the electrical impulses generated by the heart, allowing twelve electrical views of the heart as well.

These electrodes are marked with RA for the right arm, LA for the left arm, LL for left leg and RL for the right leg. Out of the ten, four will be placed on the limbs while the remaining six electrodes will be placed on the chests. A simple reminder for males who will be undergoing this medical test is to not forget to shave their chest hair so that a better connection can be had during the medical examination.

The rationale for placing these physical lead unto the human body is in order to record an ECG lead. The ECG lead refers to the mathematically calculated information from the combination of these physical leads that are attached to the human body. They are the most important part of the medical equipment as each electrode serves a vital role in getting a good view of the heart from different angles.

After placing and attaching all the electrodes in their respective areas, your physician will now ask you to lie flat while they conduct the examination. The information they collected will then be registered and recorded to a computer as a medical photo on a graph paper.

The entire procedure usually lasts for not more 30 minutes. After the examination, your physician will detach each electrode one by one. A result will finally be printed out and be kept together with your other medical records. This will serve as a reference for any future medical examination that will be conducted to you.

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