The most common term for an electrocardiogram is EKG or sometimes ECG. It is a test used to measure the electrical impulses that go to and from your heart. Every time your heart beats, an impulse — an electrical wave — moves through your heart.
It’s that electrical impulse that tells your heart to squeeze and pump the blood through it. By monitoring your heart’s electrical function, your doctor can identify if your beat is normal or if the timing in the top or lower chamber is not working properly. A normal beat has four parts (three pulses and a pause):
- The upper part of your heart that consists of the left and right atria creates the first wave of a heartbeat, called the “P wave”. These chambers send blood into the lower chambers when they contract.
- The electrical current then follows along a flat line, a pause that gives the blood time to flow, until the next impulse.
- The left and right lower chambers create the next wave, called the “QRS complex.” This charge squeezes the blood out of the heart to the lungs and beyond.
- The final wave of a normal heartbeat is the “T wave,” which occurs as the electrical impulse returns to its resting place. And the beat goes on.
What Is It Good For?
An EKG is helpful in identifying a host of heart-related conditions. By evaluating and measuring the time it takes between each wave, your doctor can tell if the electrical activity is abnormal or normal.
The second important measurement provided by the electrocardiogram is the amount of electrical impulse that passes with each beat. This can be helpful to determine whether your heart is working too hard during some phases of its activity or if you suffer from any enlargement of the heart muscle itself. It can even identify a prior or ongoing heart attack.
The non-invasive, painless test also is an effective tool for finding any other heart problems you may be having, including:
- Arrhythmias, which are irregular rhythms in your heartbeat
- Any structural congenital deformities in your heart
- Whether you’ve experienced a heart attack previously
- If your chest pain is being caused by blocked or narrowing arteries
- How well you may be responding to ongoing treatment, such as with a pacemaker
- If you are developing pericardial disease, which is a swelling of the thin membrane that surrounds your heart
- Effects of high blood pressure, or hypertension, and other systemic diseases
- If you have an infection in one of your heart valves
- How close you are to being at risk for sudden cardiac death
Sign of the Times
Sometimes an EKG is done as a screening test. Some symptoms you may have that could trigger the need for an electrocardiogram can include:
- Chest pains
- Severe fatigue or tiredness for no apparent reason
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fainting spells
- Shortness of breath
- To determine your heart’s health prior to surgery
- To monitor your response after a heart procedure or while you’re taking heart medications
- To set a baseline for future use when you see a new doctor
The heart specialists at NYC Cardiology, Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates are experts at conducting electrocardiogram tests and interpreting the results. Make an appointment today.
Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066