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Diagnostic Tests 2023

Electrocardiogram: as é done, results and when é indicated

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Electrocardiogram: as é done, results and when é indicated
Electrocardiogram: as é done, results and when é indicated

The electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a test performed to assess the electrical activity of the heart, thus observing the rhythm, amount and speed of its beats. This exam is performed by a device that draws graphics on this information from the heart, and, if there is any disease, such as arrhythmias, murmurs or even a heart attack, these graphics, which are interpreted by the general practitioner or cardiologist, may be altered.

The ECG is simple and quick and is considered normal when 60 to 100 beats per minute are identified. It is considered altered when less than 60 or more than 100 beats per minute are identified, and each case must be evaluated by the cardiologist and defined if there is an indication to perform other complementary tests to evaluate the functioning of the heart.

When is indicated

The electrocardiogram evaluates the activity of the heart, checking the frequency of heartbeats per minute. Thus, this exam can be requested during a routine consultation or to investigate the presence of silent diseases, such as:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias, which can happen due to fast, slow or irregular heartbeats, which can present symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness or fainting;
  • Acute myocardial infarction, which can be the cause of chest pain or burning, dizziness, and shortness of breath;
  • Inflammation of the walls of the heart, caused by pericarditis or myocarditis, which may be suspected when there is chest pain, shortness of breath, fever and malaise;
  • Heart murmur, due to changes in the valves and heart walls, which usually cause dizziness and shortness of breath;
  • Cardiac arrest, as in this case the heart loses its contraction activity and, if not quickly reversed, causes death.

This exam is also requested by the cardiologist to monitor the improvement or worsening of diseases, and also, if medications for arrhythmia or pacemakers are being effective.

How it's done

The electrocardiogram is a simple and quick test that does not require preparation, it is only recommended that the person avoid using creams in the chest region and shave the hairs present in the area, if any, so that it is possible to guarantee the proper fixation of the electrodes.

This exam can be done in the hospital, clinics or in the cardiologist's office, being done with the person lying on a stretcher with the placement of electrodes, which are connected to the electrocardiogram device, on the chest, wrists and ankles. It is important that the places where the electrodes will be placed are properly degreased.

The electrodes capture the heartbeats, which are recorded in the device and "released" in the form of a graph, which is analyzed by the cardiologist.

What does the result mean

The electrocardiogram result should be evaluated by the cardiologist taking into account the person's he alth and family history. Thus, according to the number of beats per minute (bpm), the result can be classified as normal or abnormal:

  • Normal result: indicates the heart is beating at a regular rate, usually between 60 and 100 bpm;
  • Abnormal result: indicates that the heart is beating slower or faster than ideal, that is, less than 60 bpm or more than 100 bpm.

In addition to the heart rhythm, the result may be abnormal when there are alterations suggestive of enlargement of the heart chambers, heart blocks, infarction, pericarditis, among others.

After the evaluation of the result, especially in the case of abnormal results, the doctor may indicate the performance of complementary tests to identify the cause of the alteration in the heartbeat, such as echocardiogram, holter and stress test, for example. Find out about other tests that evaluate the heart.

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