8 Reasons to Get an EKG

An electrocardiogram (EKG), also known as an electrocardiograph (ECG), is a test that examines your heart function by measuring its electrical activity. 

Each time your heart beats, it sends an electrical impulse (or wave) through the tissue, causing the muscle to squeeze and blood to pump through the arteries and out to your body. 

Based on the EKG results, we can determine whether the electrical activity is normal or irregular, as well as if there are structural irregularities.

At Advanced Cardiac Care, board-certified cardiologist Michael Avaricio, MD, and our staff regularly use the EKG as both a screening tool to get a baseline reading for our patients, as well as a diagnostic tool for patients who display symptoms of a heart condition or who’ve had a cardiac event like a heart attack. 

Here’s what you need to know about the test and why you should get it.

The heart’s role in the body

The heart is the central part of the body’s circulatory system, primarily responsible for pumping blood and, with it, distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Located under the sternum, this muscular organ contains four chambers and a number of valves that regulate blood flow.

The two upper chambers are called atria. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs, and the right atrium receives oxygen-poor blood back from the tissues. 

The atrioventricular valves that separate the chambers are made up of the tricuspid on the left and the mitral valve on the right.

The two lower chambers are called ventricles, and they pump oxygen-rich blood through the arteries to the body’s organs. They also have valves that separate them.

The heart’s blood-pumping cycle, from pumping out to receiving back is termed the cardiac cycle. Oxygen-free blood enters the heart through the right atrium, travels into the right ventricle, enters the lungs to pick up more oxygen and release carbon dioxide, then moves into the left chambers for redistribution. 

The average person has three cardiac cycles per minute, equivalent to about 72 beats, with about 5.6 liters of blood circulating through the body.

Because the heart is a critical organ, even small dysfunctions or abnormalities can cause drastic changes to, or effects in, the human body.

8 reasons to get an EKG

Because the EKG assesses how the entire system is operating, it can be a useful screening and diagnostic tool. We may recommend an EKG to:

What does getting an EKG entail?

An EKG is totally noninvasive and requires no special preparation before or downtime after. The EKG technician asks you to remove any jewelry or other objects that could interfere with the test, as well as your clothing from the waist up (don’t worry, you’ll have a drape).

You lie flat on the table or bed provided and wait while the tech places 12 electrodes with adhesive pads on your chest, arms, and legs and attaches the leads to them. These wires run from the electrodes to the EKG device.

While you remain still (and no talking), the tech starts the EKG machine. It takes about 10-15 seconds to get the tracing, either on a computer screen or on special graph paper. After that, the tech disconnects the leads, removes the electrodes, and you’re free to go.

Dr. Avaricio reviews the results and gets back to you with what, if anything, he’s found. If you require follow-up tests or treatment, he explains what will happen so you understand what’s going on and why.

If you need to get a baseline EKG, or if you’re having symptoms of any heart condition, it’s time to come to our office, located in the Ozone Park section of Queens, New York. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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