An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. An ECG machine detects abnormalities in your heart’s rhythm and identifies cardiovascular risks. An ECG is a non-invasive procedure that involves placing electrodes on different parts of your body and monitoring the electrical impulses produced by your heart. While you can use ECG machines to conduct a test at home, they are generally used in clinical settings and hospitals. ECG machines help monitor your heartbeat so doctors can spot irregularities or other problems, such as an irregular heartbeat, early signs of heart disease, arrhythmia, hypertension or hypertrophy of the left ventricle.
When to get an ECG?
You may need an ECG if you experience a few of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain during physical activity or at rest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pain in your lower back, upper back, or abdomen.
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded.
- Changes in your heart rate and rhythm.
- Abnormal heart sounds.
In addition, you should get an ECG if you have risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetes, a history of smoking, or an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI). You might also have an ECG if you had a heart attack or have a family history of heart disease. Certain medications, such as steroids or beta blockers, might also prompt a doctor to order an ECG. You should also get an ECG if you have heart palpitations. You should get an ECG if you have a murmur that has not gone away after treatment. You should get an ECG if you have an abnormal heart rate or rhythm.
How does an ECG work?
An ECG machine detects tiny electrical impulses produced by your heart. Your heart has atria that pump blood through your veins and a ventricle that pumps blood out to your body. When your heart contracts, it sends an electrical signal through your veins and out to your body. While blood is pumped through your veins, it passes between two electrodes. The electrodes act as a bridge, transmitting parts of the signal to the ECG machine. The ECG machine records tiny variations in the electrical impulses and uses them to create a graph known as an “electrocardiogram.” The graph shows your heart rate and rhythm, which is useful data for your doctor to spot any abnormalities. ECG machines come with an electrode that can be applied to your skin. The electrodes are connected to the machine and help detect the electrical impulses of your heart.
Types of ECG devices
There are two types of ECG devices, handheld and wearable.
- Handheld ECG machines are used to analyze a patient’s heartbeat when they’re in the hospital. They are small devices that are typically placed on the patient’s chest and connected to electrodes on the patient’s limbs. These handheld ECG machines are easy to operate and provide accurate results.
- Wearable ECG devices are used to monitor your heartbeat and detect abnormalities. They are typically worn on the wrist or chest and connected to electrodes that are placed on your limbs. These wearable ECG machines are smaller and more portable than handheld ECG machines.
The benefits of using ECG machines
ECG machines are useful for detecting heart abnormalities and irregularities. They can also provide the doctor with helpful information about your heart rate, rhythm and the timings of your heartbeats. Most ECG machines can be connected to a monitor that shows live readings of your heartbeat. This can help ease your doctor’s diagnosis, especially if they are not in the same room as you. Some ECG machines can also store data, which can be helpful if you suffer recurring abnormal heartbeats. ECG machines are also useful for regular check-ups and can help detect cardiovascular risks.
Downsides to using an ECG machine
Although ECG machines can be useful for detecting heart abnormalities, they aren’t always accurate. ECG machines, like much medical equipment, experience a high level of false positives, or incorrect readings. False positives are a result of faulty equipment and human error. Doctors can miss these errors and false positives. Additionally, some abnormalities in your heartbeat may not be detected, because ECG machines aren’t designed to pick up on every irregularity. Like any medical equipment, ECG machines are subject to malfunction. ECG machines are also expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain.
Electrocardiograms are non-invasive heart tests that measure the electrical activity of the heart and provide doctors with valuable information about a patient’s heart rate, rhythm, and timings. ECG machines are useful for regular check-ups and detecting cardiovascular risks. They can also help detect heart abnormalities and provide the doctor with helpful information about a patient’s heartbeat. However, ECG machines aren’t always accurate and can miss some abnormalities in the heartbeat. ECG machines can also be expensive and subject to malfunction. Overall, ECG machines are an effective way to detect heart abnormalities and irregularities and provide doctors with helpful information about a patient’s heartbeat.