An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Also known as an EKG or ECG, the electrocardiogram translates the information it receives into a pattern of waves for analysis. An EKG produces a record of waves that correspond to the electrical impulses that occur during each beat of a patient's heart. This non-invasive test is usually performed as part of a routine physical examination, however, it may be performed to investigate the cause of heart-related symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
Reasons for an Electrocardiogram
An electrocardiogram may be used to measure any damage to the heart, as well as to to detect:
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart defects
- Heart valve problems
An EKG is sometimes used to monitor the effectiveness of a pacemaker that has been previously implanted or medication that has been given to treat heart-related conditions.
The Electrocardiogram Procedure
The EKG test is performed by attaching electrical wires, called electrodes, to the arms, legs and chest. The EKG records the heart's electrical activity, showing how quickly and regularly the heart beats, as well as any structural abnormalities in the chambers and thickness of the heart. It is important for patients to remain still during this test, as muscle movement may interfere with results. The test usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes, and is noninvasive and painless. An electrocardiogram is sometimes performed while the patient is exercising or under physical stress, so the doctor can view any changes in the heart during activity. This type of ECG is often referred to as a stress test.
Normal results from an EKG test will indicate a consistent and even heart rate and rhythm. Abnormal results from an EKG may indicate signs of a heart condition or other heart problems and additional testing is often necessary.
This is for patients who experience symptoms of abnormal heart rhythm and abnormal heartrates several times in a month. Small electrodes are attached to the chest and a small recorder is attached to the belt which records the heart rhythm, the heartrate and EKG for 2- 4 weeks, so that abnormalities in the heart rhythm are recorded. During this time period the patient can pursue the normal activities of life. The patient will be educated how to attach the electrodes or take them off for baths, showers etc.
Exercise Treadmill Testing
This is a limited test during which the patient walks on a treadmill while being attached to an EKG. This is done for example in patients without previous heart disease, who want to start an exercise program of who have symptoms consistent with heart disease.
Proper diet and exercise are essential to maintaining good health. Keeping the body at a healthy weight and following a regimen of physical activity have been proven to improve mood, quality of life and longevity and to go a long way in preventing or controlling many serious illnesses. Obesity, which has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and which is an enemy of good health, can be kept at bay through physical fitness.
Benefits of Good Nutrition and Healthy Exercise
Not only do people feel more energetic and happier when they eat well and exercise, they also keep their bodies in the best possible condition. The benefits of good nutrition and a healthy exercise routine include maintaining muscle strength and bone mass and preventing or controlling diseases, such as:
- Heart disease
- Liver and gall bladder disease
- Certain cancers
- Type 2 diabetes
While there are complex causes for diseases to occur, some hereditary or unknown, life style changes can make a noticeable difference in keeping individuals healthy.