Thursday, July 22, 2004

 

What is an EKG?

An EKG is an electrocardiogram and measures the electric activity of the heart. The human heart is 4 chambered, consisting of atria, the top part of the heart, and ventricles, the bottom part. Also, there is a right and left side of the heart with the left side pumping fresh red oxygenated blood from the lungs to the body. The top part of the wave in the EKG is the left ventricle, the key heart muscle area for the body to get blood. When muscle receives a signal to contract, it squeezes. The other waves in the EKG represent the remainder of the heart muscle receiving and reacting to contraction signals. Heart rate is referred to in beats per minute. Bradycardia refers to a heart rate that is lower than 60 beats per minute. Tachycardia refers to heart rate that is higher than 100 beats per minute. Normal sinus rhythm is the electrical activity that produces a heart rate in between 61 and 99 beats per minute, the desired range. Heart block, when you are talking about an EKG, refers to a block of electric signal in travelling through the nerve tracts and muscle of the heart. Heart blockage is something different. Heart blockage has to do with material in the coronary arteries, the arteries of the heart that supply the heart muscle with the oxygen necessary for your heart to beat. Heart blockage doesn't have much to do with an EKG, where heart block does.

Your physician will order an EKG for certain, older age groups, to establish a baseline to start from, and to indicate any problems with surgery. Your surgery could be postponed pending further medical work up or cancelled because of an abnormal EKG.   

A cardiologist is a specialist for electric muscle activity.  He or she reads EKGs.

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