The electrocardiogram (EKG) is a test that allows evaluating the electrical activity of the heart from different angles. The heart has automatic cells that generate the contraction of muscle fibers without any external stimulation. The heart contractions spread from the atria to the ventricles in a perfectly synchronized way due to rhythm regulating systems. This phenomenon is unique in each body and can be evaluated through electrodes in the thoracic wall and extremities of patients with symptoms suggesting acute heart injury.
When the patient arrives at the emergency department or the doctor’s office, a medical history will be opened. It will require acknowledgment of specific risk factors, family history, and current medications. Key questions during debriefing include: how long ago did symptoms start? Was it triggered by any activities or emotional situations?
After a physical examination and vital signs, time is an essential element that must be present since the first symptom. The faster the treatment begins, the more heart tissue will remain healthy.
The test is straightforward, painless, and can be done anywhere comfortably with a stretcher (it is easy to transport). The exam lasts approximately ten minutes. One of its most important characteristics is that it allows doctors to quickly detect if there is a rhythm disorder, heart tissue affected by low oxygen levels, myocardial dysfunction, or a heart attack.
Patients should be informed about the safety of the test. They should not worry about complications during their performance. Physicians must emphasize that prompt realization will lead to early diagnosis, management, and an overall saving of the patient’s life.
– The patients do not have to be fasting or take any special medication before the procedure.
– To carry out the test, the patient must remove their shirt. In the case of female patients, they must also remove their bra and any metal garment (earrings, rings, straps, necklaces) and phones. The presence of these objects will completely alter the tracing of the electrodes and, therefore, the results.
During the test
The physician will ask the patient to lie down on the stretcher. Then, the electrodes will be placed in a specific location of the chest without touching each other and adding gel to avoid injuries to the skin. Each electrode will evaluate and measure the electrical activity of a specific area on the heart, so it is imperative to correct all of them. The patient must remain calm and avoid sudden movements during the test to obtain the most accurate results.
The doctor will obtain an EKG report to evaluate the heart rhythm and determine the following parameters: heart rate, adequate systems regulation of the heart electrical activity, and atrial and ventricular function. Suppose there is a region of the myocardial tissue affected by low levels of oxygen. In that case, the EKG will determine its specific location as well as the presence of scars from previous injuries. Rhythm disorders and arrhythmias are also diagnosed through this test.
Once the results are obtained, the doctor must explain to the patient and his/her family the next steps to follow, including possible treatments. In many cases, early detection, as a result of the EKG, will allow the immediate initiation of medication and progressive return to their routine as well as lifestyle changes. In other cases, patients should undergo other complementary tests that will allow evaluating other cardiac parameters and, if necessary, invasive procedures to save the patient’s life. The early performance of an electrocardiogram, its interpretation, and subsequent conduct based on the results obtained is currently an essential key for the survival of patients with acute myocardial involvement.
- A quick and easy test to be performed by trained health personnel.
- Help make an early diagnosis of life-threatening coronary blockages…
- Its results allow making decisions about the behavior to follow.