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Uses of an Electrocardiography Test

Known as an EKG or ECG, an electrocardiography records your heart’s electrical activity through the use of electrodes placed on your skin. It is a very common test performed by your general physician, cardiologist, and vein doctor.

The EKG detects the slightest electrical changes on your skin that come about from each and every heartbeat in order for your doctor to learn more about the function and structure of your heat. The test is non-invasive, painless, and takes just seconds after the leads are attached.

Attaching the leads are the longest part of the test, and can take upwards of 10 minutes. The technician or nurse may have to shave small areas of hair to ensure the electrodes are secured appropriately to the skin.

Medical Uses for an EKG

There are many indications for a physician to use an EKG. Some reasons you might be advised to get an electrocardiography test include:

  • Cardiac stress testing
  • Suspected pulmonary embolism
  • Fainting spells
  • Dizzy spells
  • Circulation concerns
  • Vein problems
  • Seizures
  • Heart murmur
  • Suspect heart attack
  • Heart valve problems
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Monitor the effectiveness of a pacemaker
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling weak or fatigued
  • Feeling that your heat if racing, pounding, or fluttering
  • Feeling pains in your chest

Abnormal results from an ECG can indicate an heart condition, and additional testing is necessary. The results may indicate that your heart is beating erratically, beating too fast, or beating too slow. It can indicate that you are having a heart attack, or have had one previously. An EKG can provide clues that you have an enlarged heart, have blocked articles, or have problems with blood flow. It can also indicate that you might have heart valve problems or coronary heart disease.

Other EKG Considerations

There are very few risks associated with having an EKG, aside from possible irritations or rash from the electrodes placements.

There is no real preparation for having an ECG. However, patients are advised to refrain from exercising or drinking cold water before getting this test. Exercising can elevate your heart rate and drinking cold water can alter the electrical patterns, and may alter the test results.

Your San Luis Obispo vein doctor will interpret the results of your EKG to determine if any treatment is warranted to improve your condition.


Why Endocarditis Patients Need a Cardiovascular Center

Endocarditis is a disorder that is fortunately rare in individuals who have healthy hearts.  However, it can develop suddenly or slowly.  Those with symptoms of this condition need excellent medical care at a the state-of-the art cardiovascular center.  Understanding the basics of this condition helps patients form realistic expectations about their care.

Overview of Endocarditis

This condition is an inflammation of the heart.  Most often the result of a bacterial infection, it is occasionally caused by fungal activity.  MedlinePlus notes that sometimes doctors are unable to find the cause. The inflammation affects the endocardium, the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and valves.

The most likely ways germs get into the blood and move to a patient’s heart include:

  • Through a central venous line
  • From unsterile needles used to inject drugs
  • After dental surgery
  • Following certain major or minor procedures, such as those performed on the urinary tract

According to research reported at PLOS ONE, a number of studies have estimated the incidence of this condition at 4 cases per 100,000 individuals.  More recent research suggests it might be higher.

The Mayo Clinic indicates that endocarditis has many potential symptoms.  Among the most common are these:

  • Chills and fever
  • New heart murmur
  • Aches in muscles and joints
  • A persistent cough
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal or limb swelling
  • Spleen tenderness
  • Blood in the urine

The most important possible complications of the disorder include:

  • Strokes and damage to organs
  • Infections that strike areas outside the heart
  • Actual heart failure

Treatment at a Cardiovascular Center

Based on a patient’s medical history and a physical exam, a cardiovascular specialist might suspect endocarditis.  Since in its earliest stages the illness can mimic other disorders, physicians often order these tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Blood tests to look for bacteria and anemia
  • Electrocardiogram to assess the electrical phases of the patient’s heartbeat
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram to examine the heart valves
  • Chest X-rays to evaluate the heart and the lungs
  • CT or MRI scan to determine if an infection has moved to areas outside the heart

Physicians are able to choose the appropriate antibiotic or combination to treat endocarditis based on results of blood cultures.  Patients sometimes need to receive intravenous antibiotics while in a hospital and continue them at home for a total of four to six weeks of treatment.

When endocarditis damages a patient’s heart valves, symptoms can persist and complications might develop years after antibiotics.  In some cases, surgery is the recommendation for infections that linger, for replacement of damaged valves, or to treat endocarditis linked to a fungal cause.

Surgery could mean either repairing a damaged heart valve or replacing it.  Replacement valves might consist of man-made material or come from an animal.

Sometimes cardiovascular specialists recommend preventive antibiotics before medical or dental procedures the might allow bacteria into the bloodstream.


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