If we notice unusual heart activity or feel symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, etc., our doctor would recommend an ECG to make a diagnosis. It is one of the simplest and fastest tests to diagnose our heart health. It is not to be confused with an echocardiogram. However, an ECG machine and an EKG machine mean the same thing. Electrocardiogram and electrokardiogram are different spelling variations of the same word, and both are correct.
What is an ECG machine, and how does it work?
An ECG or EKG machine records the electrical activity of our heart. Small sticky patches are placed on different spots of our body, including the chest, arms, and legs. These patches or electrodes are connected to the electrocardiogram machine through lead wires. The rhythm of the heartbeat and other information about the heart's electrical impulses are recorded. The graph containing the information is printed out. A cardiologist or healthcare professional will interpret the graph to study heart health.
When might your doctor recommend an ECG test?
Your doctor might recommend an ECG test before you come to see him at the appointment so he can have an idea about the overall health of your heart. An ECG test might be recommended
If you feel unusually tired, weak, and dizzy
If you experience chest pain
If you notice an irregular heartbeat
To find out how certain medicines are working
If you suffer a heart attack
An ECG test is also performed soon after a person dies to confirm the death. A flat line indicates that there are no electrical impulses in the heart, and the person does not have a heartbeat.
Sometimes, a panic attack can feel like a heart attack. Often, people experiencing anxiety and panic attacks are recommended an ECG test to check whether or not they have a heart attack.
What is the accuracy of an ECG machine?
The results of an ECG machine are quite accurate. However, just like any machine in the world, there is a chance of error. But some things might interfere with the accuracy of the results, such as electrolyte imbalance, pregnancy, certain medications, and exercise before the test.
Another thing that might affect the accuracy of the test is the nervousness of the test itself. Many people feel anxious before, and during the test, so their readings can be affected.
Talking or moving during the test will also interfere with the accuracy of the results.
Is an ECG test safe?
An ECG test is completely safe. There are no risks involved. Many people feel anxious about the test because they think they might get an electric shock. That is a false assumption; no external electricity is given to the body. However, some people might experience a skin rash if their skin is sensitive to the gel used during the test or if the electrodes are placed on the body for too long.
What are the steps of an ECG Test?
Here is how an ECG test is carried out.
For this test, fasting is not needed. But make sure you do not exercise before the test as it can disturb the accuracy of the readings.
The person conducting the test will ask you to remove any jewellery or accessory that might interfere with the test.
You will be asked to remove your shirt. Your privacy will be ensured by drawing a curtain or giving you a hospital gown.
Sometimes men's chest hair is shaved to make the electrodes stick to the skin properly.
A gel is used on the body, and the electrodes are placed on the chest, arms, and legs.
Lead wires connect electrodes to the ECG machine.
You have to lie down still, and no movement or talking is allowed during the test.
It only takes a few minutes, and the electrical activity of your heart is recorded and printed out.
The doctor then observes and interprets the rhythm of your heart.
Types of ECG or EKG machines
There are several different types of ECG machines available.
12 lead ECG machine
A 12-lead ECG machine is the standard machine most widely and commonly used to perform ECG tests. It is called so because it consists of 12 leads. There are also 6-lead ECG machines available. A standard ECG machine price is usually between 1500$ to 2000$.
The main parts of a standard ECG machine are the following.
Electrodes: these are the sticky patches placed on the body to measure the electrical activity of the heart.
Wires: the lead wires are connected to the electrodes and transmit the electrical signal of the heart to the amplifier.
Amplifier: an amplifier interprets the electrical signals of the heart.
Output: the electrical activity can then be seen on a screen and printed on graph paper.
Smart ECG devices
While the standard ECG machine is used in hospitals and clinics, smart ECG devices for consumer use are on the rise. You can also wear them and connect them to a smartphone. The ECG machine for home is easy to use and the portable ECG machine is also travel friendly. They are wireless ECG machines and have in-built sensors. The heart rhythm can be seen on a screen. However, there is some debate regarding the accuracy of these smart ECG machines. The portable ECG machine price is usually between 50$ to 300$.
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