ECG / ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY
WHAT IS ECG?
An electrocardiogram is used to monitor your heart. Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse normally generated from special cells in the upper right chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart. Your doctor can use an electrocardiogram to look for patterns among these heartbeats and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions. An electrocardiogram is a noninvasive, painless test.
Why It Is Done
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is done to:
- Check the heart’s electrical activity.
- Find the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
- Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
- Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
Check how well medicines are working and whether they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
- Check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart, such as pacemakers, are working to control a normal heartbeat.
- Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, or a family history of early heart disease.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is often performed by a technician. After changing into a hospital gown, you’ll lie on an examining table or bed. Electrodes — often 12 to 15 — will be attached to your arms, legs and chest. The electrodes are sticky patches applied with a gel to help detect and conduct the electrical currents of your heart. If you have hair on the parts of your body where the electrodes will be placed, the technician may need to shave the hair so that the electrodes stick properly.
You can breathe normally during the electrocardiogram. Make sure you’re warm and ready to lie still, however. Moving, talking or shivering may distort the test results. A standard ECG takes just a few minutes.
An Echocardiogram, also known as a transthoracic (meaning viewed through the chest) echocardiogram, Echo or Echo Doppler, is an ultrasound of the heart. It is a simple procedure that requires no preparation on the part of the patient and does not use any radiation to produce the images. This test is used to view real time images of the beating heart and the blood flowing through it. This produces the ability to measure whether a proper amount of blood is being moved through the heart at a proper rate. It also shows if there are any defects in the actual heart muscle tissue or the valves.
This procedure involves the patient laying on a table, getting some gel applied to the chest area and having the Radiologist move a transducer around in that gel while measuring heart function. It is non-invasive and completely painless, and so safe that it is often used on pregnant women and infants.
The purpose of this procedure is to get an overall view of everything going on in the heart, including the size and shape of the heart, blood flow and any congenital defects such as prolapsed valves. An echocardiogram can show the cause of a heart murmur or arrhythmia, tissue damage to the heart, backflow of blood through improperly closing valves (regurgitation), and much more.