An electrocardiogram or EKG for short is a method of measuring electrical activity within the heart. The test is non-invasive and helps physicians and cardiovascular consultants to measure the heart’s performance and if there are any irregularities within a patient’s heart.
An abnormal EKG can be an indication of many things, such as a signal that a patient’s health is at risk from something as severe as a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or a heart arrhythmia. However, an abnormal EKG can also be the normal variation of a heart’s rhythm, which does not affect a patient’s health.
How Does an EKG Work
An EKG machine is a portable device that has 12 flexible wires that are attached to sticky electrodes. The electrodes are placed on specific areas from the body, such as the arms, legs and around the heart. The electrodes are designed to measure the electrical impulses of the body.
The EKG machine doesn’t have the ability to generate electricity, it serves as a way to conduct and measure electrical activity within the body and specifically the heart. A normally functioning heart conducts electricity from the right atrium to the left atrium. The electrical current then proceeds to the atrioventricular (AV) node, signaling the heart’s ventricles to contract. The electrical signals are then directed to an area called the bundle of his, which is divided into fibers, providing current to the left and right ventricles.
An EKG is designed to measure any disruptions of electrical current within the heart, which can have a detrimental effect on the heart’s ability to perform efficiently.
What an Abnormal EKG Means
An EKG is used to measure several aspects of the heart and its functions. The results can be an indication of several health issues, such as:
- Abnormal heart shape or size: irregularities with the heart’s shape and size such as the heart’s walls being larger than others can be picked up by an abnormal EKG. In this instance, it can be an indication that the heart is working harder than usual to pump blood around the body.
- Heart attack or ischemia: When a patient endures a heart attack, the restricted blood flow within the heart can cause the tissue to lose oxygen and die. The dying tissue will not conduct electricity, causing an abnormal EKG.
- Abnormal heart rate: a healthy adult’s heart rate or BPM should be between 60 – 100 beats per minute. An abnormal EKG can help to distinguish whether the heart is beating too slowly or way too fast. If the BPM is outside the range for a healthy resting heart rate, it can be indicative that there’s a problem with the heart and blood flow of the patient.
- Heart rhythm abnormalities: A healthy heart usually beats in a particular rhythm or sequence. An EKG can help to distinguish if the heart is beating outside of its usual pattern, which may indicate a heart problem. If the heart is skipping beats, it will show up as an abnormal EKG.
- Side effects of medication: certain medications have been known to have an adverse effect on the body, impacting the heart’s rhythm and bpm. For example, medications such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and sodium channel blockers can have a detrimental effect on the heart’s rhythm.
Seeking Medical Help
If you’re experiencing problems with your heart, tightness in the chest area or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek help from a qualified physician. Several symptoms may indicate that you require an EKG, so it’s important to look out for:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations or the feeling of your heart beating out of rhythm
- Racing heart combined with sweating profusely
- Tightness in the chest area
- The sudden feeling of fatigue with weakness
- Nausea and the feeling that you may pass out
It’s important to not waste any time if you experience any of the above symptoms. Contact your physician or private home nurse immediately to get yourself booked in for an EKG.
EKGs measure the way that electricity is running inside your heart. When an EKG is abnormal, it can indicate several possibilities. For example, abnormal heart shape or size can show up in an abnormal EKG. They can also reveal previous heart attacks and ischemic events. Abnormal EKGs can also pick up on abnormal heart rates, as well as heart rhythm abnormalities. Both of these can be indicators of problems with the heart or blood flow. The negative side effects of some medications on the heart will also show up on an abnormal EKG.
An EKG machine can be a significant investment for many patients. Having your own EKG machine to keep track of your heart in real time is extremely convenient. The right EKG machine will improve the quality of the care you receive. The SonoHealth EKGraph is a portable EKG machine for monitoring your heart on the go. It allows you to take wireless smart EKGs from anywhere, at any time. It’s a cost-effective solution for cardiac patients of all kinds.
There are several markers for what an abnormal EKG looks like. An EKG uses sensors on your body to detect the electric impulses causing your heart to beat. The machine translates those impulses into a visual chart or graph. Ideally, you want a trained professional to read your EKG. What they are looking for are discrepancies or irregularities in the recorded waves. Your EKG graph should show a constant distribution of peaks and valleys. Irregular distances or depths between waves can indicate issues like arrhythmias or prior heart attacks.