There are two types of tests most commonly used to determine heart health - electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) and echocardiogram. Traditionally these tests are conducted if a patient complains of chest pains or if a physician detects abnormal heart rhythm. In German, electrocardiogram is translated into elektro-kardiographie so the term ECG and EKG are synonymous.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) machines monitor the electrical activity of the heart and is performed by an ECG/EKG technician. Echocardiogram uses ultrasound to create a visual image of the heart and is performed by an Ultrasound Technologist or Sonographer.
The ECG test is usually performed first. If any abnormal results are apparent on the ECG, the cardiovascular physician will order the Echocardiogram. The ECG test is performed by placing small adhesive electrodes on various parts of the body. The ECG machine translates the electrical activity into a series of waves on paper. This is a safe and pain-free test that can potentially identify a multitude of cardiovascular issues.
An ECG test can reveal:
An ECG test can be performed while the body is at resting or working state. Exercise ECG is a test to measure heart rhythms when your body is at work. Running on a treadmill or exercise bicycle with electrodes connected to strategic body parts is a common method of Exercise ECG. This is also commonly referred to as a stress test or treadmill test. The stress test may uncover problems that may not be found while the heart is at rest.
Some ECG machines also provide spirometry functionality. Spirometry is the most common pulmonary function test (PFT) to evaluate lung health. In short, spirometry measures airflow. The test measures how much, and how quickly air is exhaled. This simple test can evaluate a large range of lunge diseases.
PC-based ECG systems are rapidly transforming the ECG technology. The computer/workstation solution eliminates bulky paper print outs and can interpret results more efficiently and accurately. Additionally, data is stored electronically and can be uploaded into most medical record management tools avoiding delays due to copying, scanning, and shredding paper records.
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