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Common Heart Tests

Posted on July 6, 2021 | No Comments on Common Heart Tests

Two of the most common screening methods used to detect abnormalities in the heart are the rest and stress electrocardiogram and the 2D echocardiogram.

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a painless procedure that takes no more than 5-10 minutes. It records the heart’s electrical activity in a visual graph to detect abnormality in the heart functions as well as the underlying causes. An ECG that takes readings over 24 hours is called a Holter monitor and when performed during exercise, an ECG is called a stress test.

“Electrodes” or the sticky patches seen at the end of the wires are attached on patient’s arms, legs and chest. During the test, patients should remain still and are sometimes asked to hold their breaths
for a short period of time. The electrical activity which is converted into waveforms are examined and interpreted by the cardiologist. An ECG may show evidence of heart enlargement, insufficient blood flow to the heart, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia) and insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart (ischemia).

An echocardiogram, on the other hand, is a test that uses ultrasound or sound waves to examine the heart. It is a noninvasive and safe procedure that gives information on the size and structure of the heart and its chambers. A mouse-like device called transducers is used in the test. After the technician puts gel on the patient’s chest wall, transducers are moved back and forth sending sound waves to the heart which bounce off cardiac structures or “echoes”. These are later processed via computers to display the two-dimensional image of the heart. This test may last for 30-60 minutes.

Ask your doctor or a cardiologist (a doctor specializing in diseases of the heart) to know more about screening tests for heart disease.

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