The Electrocardiograph is better known as the ECG. These are devices that measure the electrical activity of the heart, showing it as a series of wavy lines (a graph) on a strip of paper that moves along during the test. These lines tell medical professionals how the heart of a patient is beating, what its rhythm is and how the blood is flowing. It is generally used when it is believed here is an issue with the heart, such as a heart attack or an irregular heartbeat.
There are different methods to enable someone to measure a heart arrhythmia or other problem. When a physician suspects a heart problem is there, they will usually choose the method most suitable for monitoring it. For instance, if the problem is an overly rapid heartbeat, then an electro physiology will be required rather than an ECG, as it cannot accurately measure a tachyarrhythmia.
Types of ECG Test
There are various types of ECGs, each designed to measure the rhythm of a patient’s heart. One popular type is the stress test, or exercise ECG. This records the rhythm of the heart during exercise, usually by putting a patient on a treadmill. This test is designed to see whether exercise causes a heart problem in a patient, or whether it makes an existing problem worse. Furthermore, the stress test can help identify ischemia, which is where insufficient blood flows to the heart.
During an ECG, the rhythm of the heart is recorded either for a short or long period of time. For instance, someone may be asked to do a Holter, which is an ECG that lasts up to 72 hours. This means someone may be monitored for as much as three days on end. This test is mainly used when an arrhythmia is very likely to be present, but doesn’t get picked up by a simple ECG. During this test, a patient is fitted with a number of patches on their chest, which are then attached to a portable monitor that can simply clip onto a belt or purse.
Then, there are external loop recorders. These can measure heart rate for as much as a month. This is done with a device that people wear around the waist or on their wrist. Whenever they experience symptoms, they then press a button, which records the incident and how the heart is behaving at that time.
Finally, there is the insertable loop recorder. This monitors the rhythm of the heart continuously, sometimes for as long as 14 months. This involves a 20 minute procedure, whereby a device is placed under the skin under local anesthetic. The patient is then given an activator, which they must place on the recorder every time they experience a problem.
The goal of an electrocardiograph is to identify a problem and to find a way to then provide a cure. Unfortunately, heart disease is still one of the main killers in the world today, so finding ways to help people is incredibly important.