Professional Heart Rate Testing (EKG)
An EKG is a painless, risk-free method to diagnose heart problems including heart pain, irregular heart rate, and heart attack, and common heart disorders.
If you are experiencing heart problems or symptoms that may suggest problems with the heart, your doctor may recommend an EKG, also known as an ECG or an electrocardiogram. This simple procedure takes 5 to 10 minutes and is completely painless and risk-free.
Some reasons why your doctor may recommend an EKG:
· Annual screening
· Signs/symptoms of Heart Attack
· Heart rate above 100 or below 60
· Irregular heart rhythm
· High blood pressure
· High cholesterol
· Cigarette smoking
· Family history of heart disease
· Fainting, loss of consciousness
Other functions of an EKG:
· To find the cause of chest pain, heart attack, or inflammation.
· To determine if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick.
· To observe the effects of a heart medication and check for side effects.
· To check if a pacemaker or other implanted device is working properly.
· To monitor the heart rate of a hospital patient.
What to do on the day of your EKG:
Do not exert yourself before the test. Go about your regular day but avoid stress and exercise. The procedure works best when measuring your resting heart rate.
Make sure your doctor knows about every medicine you take, prescription or non-prescription.
Take all medications as you normally do, so your doctor can see it’s effects, if any, on heart rate.
Make sure your doctor knows about any alcohol and substance use. This information is protected under doctor-patient confidentiality.
Discuss any other concerns with doctor. Remember that an EKG is safe and painless but talking about it may help you relax.
Remove all jewelry and metallic items. Let your doctor know about any metal parts.
You may be provided with a gown or other clothing that does not contain metal.
Lie down comfortably on the bed or the padded table.
Some hair on your arms, legs, or chest may need to be shaved.
EKG cables will be attached to Electrodes (stickers) placed on your arms, legs, and chest. The electrodes do not produce any electricity, and are only there to read the electrical signals that are naturally present in your body. They may be cold to the touch at first. They may also be moved or adjusted during the test. This is normal.
Relax while the signals are recorded.
Lie still, breathe normally. Avoid talking or moving until the EKG is done.
The electrodes will be removed, which may pull at your skin uncomfortably. You will be wiped off with alcohol swab at the site if residue from the stickers remains.
The procedure will be done in 5 to 10 minutes.
Depending on the results, the EKG may be repeated. If there is trouble with staying calm or keeping still, or if the electrodes come loose, a second EKG may be needed. If you have experienced a heart attack, several EKGs may be needed before informative results appear. A second EKG may also be taken while you are exercising.
What’s going on inside:
In a healthy heart, the heart beat is controlled by a single node in the center of the heart: the sinoatrial node. The sinoatrial node sends an electrical signal that tells the rest of the heart when to contract. When the heart fills with blood, the signal is sent and blood is distributed throughout the body. Unfortunately, the sinoatrial node is not the only part of the heart that can send a signal. Signals coming from other parts of the heart disrupt the regular heart rate, can cause various problems. An EKG is used to determine where these signals are coming from in order to provide the right treatment, if needed.
Common Heart Disorders
Also known as supraventricular tachycardia or SVT, this common disorder is an abnormally fast heart rate caused by signals from the upper chambers of the heart. The signals cause the heart to contract before the heart is completely full, causing less oxygen to be distributed through the body. SVT is the most common heart disorder in children, and is more common in women than in men.
Other factors that make SVT more common:
· Lack of sleep
· Caffeine use
· Drinking and smoking
SVT is common and does not always require treatment, but may cause problems such as the following:
· Rapid heartbeat
· Chest pain
· Shortness of breath
· Loss of consciousness
· Cardiac arrest
A doctor may recommend certain non-invasive techniques to treat the symptoms of SVT. More commonly, a doctor will recommend more sleep and less use of substances.
A strong signal coming from outside the sinoatrial nerve can cause extra heart beats, trigger heart beats to come early, or prevent a heart beat from occurring. Most of the time this is normal, and occurs from caffeine, stress, etc. However, if you have too many of these extra beats too consecutively, your doctor may recommend treatment.
Sick Sinus Syndrome
When the sinoatrial node is not working properly, or the electroconduction being sent is too slow, it must be replaced by an artificial pacemaker along with medication.
When a signal is coming from the lower chambers of the heart rather than the upper chambers, the situation is more serious and requires treatment. Surgery or radiofrequency ablation may be used to scar the heart tissue that is sending the signal. A defibrillator may also be implanted as a safeguard. Untreated ventricular tachycardia may result in ventricular fibrillation.
When the heart rate is extremely fast and irregular, the lower chambers of the heart begin to spasm, often leading to cardiac arrest. A defibrillator must be used to shock the heart and give the rhythm a chance to go back to normal. CPR should be used until a defibrillator is on the scene. Ventricular fibrillation is caused by insufficiently treated heart disorders as well as heart attack (physical blockage inside the heart).
When signals have trouble reaching all the areas of the heart, this causes the heart beat to slow, leading to less oxygen reaching the brain and other parts of the body. There are 3 different levels of heart block. The first two you just monitor. The third you will need a pacemaker placement. Your doctor will explain to you which one you have if diagnosed.
Each Senior Medical Associates location performs EKGs on patients on a routine basis in the interest of preventative care. We welcome you to call a center near you to schedule a free Meet and Greet visit with a provider who can help you achieve the best you possible!