An ECG, also known in the medical world as an electrocardiogram, is normally remembered as the procedure that involves having little stickers stuck all over your body. But what exactly is its purpose? An ECG records the electrical impulses in your heart to check for any abnormalities and is used across the globe to help diagnose many common heart problems. It is not just used to assess pre-existing conditions; if you have any chest pain, dizziness, or even shortness of breath, healthcare staff will perform an ECG to cover all bases.
More recently, an ECG can be performed on the go; although not as accurate as the official sticker measuring way that hospitals use, many activity monitors now have a built in ECG monitor to track your heart rhythm and impulses. I myself love using the ECG feature on my fitness tracker: the hints, tips, and overview of what each peak on the monitor means are fascinating. We will have a look at a real ECG recording in a moment and go over what everything means, so you are not mind boggled by this feature on your activity monitors. Do you also want to know what heart problems ECGs can help pick up? Keep reading to find out.
ECGs: A Heart Problem’s Worst Nightmare
The most obvious heart problem an ECG will pick up is a heart attack. In the UK alone, more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year are due to heart attacks. This equates to 1 hospital admission every 5 minutes, with all of these diagnoses a result of an ECG. Early diagnosis is vital in heart attack scenarios and can greatly improve your chance of survival.
The patterns on the ECG can indicate to healthcare staff not only if you are having a heart attack but also which part of your heart may be damaged and the extent of this damage.
Any deviation from a normal reading could imply an underlying issue, whetherhat be an arrythmia, an abnormal heart rate, or structural abnormalities.
Still a bit mind boggled by an ECG and its purpose. If you head over to our X section, we have numerous educational posts discussing the cardiac cycle in more detail and what goes on in each segment of the ECG reading.