learn more about these diagnostic tools and how they
relate to your personal medical needs, talk to your
An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic test that records
the electrical activity of the heart. By performing
this test the doctor is able to measure the rate and
regularity or of heartbeats as well as the size and
position of the chambers.
painless and useful test, an electrocardiogram (EKG
or ECG) measures the electrical activity of the heart.
By monitoring the heart's electrical activity, an EKG
can help a healthcare provider learn a great deal about
the health of the heart and the source and location
of any problems. For example, an EKG can detect:
of the heart's rhythm or rate;
in the axis;
direction of the heart's electrical flow;
enlargement of the heart;
damage from a previous heart attack.
put, heartbeats are the result of electrical activity
in the cells of the heart. These electrical impulses
cause the muscles of the heart to contract and relax
in a regular rhythm, creating the pumping action that
moves the blood through the body's circulatory system.
The EKG records the patterns of that electrical activity.
EKG takes about 15 minutes and is administered while
the patient is lying down. Sometimes the patient will
be asked to exercise on an exercise bike or treadmill.
This is called a stress EKG. Electrodes, called leads,
are attached to the chest with a light adhesive and
connected by wires to the electrocardiograph, the machine
that records the heart's electrical impulses. Different
placements and combinations of leads provide different
views of the heart.
electrocardiograph prints a permanent record of the
test on a strip of ruled graph paper so the healthcare
provider can examine and evaluate the results later.
the way, ECG seems a logical abbreviation for an ElectroGardioGram.
Why then is it often called an EKG? K stands for the
Greek word "kardia".
An echocardiogram is a noninvasive procedure that uses
sound waves (ultrasound) to evaluate how well the heart
is applied to the chest and a transducer (wand-like
apparatus) is moved over the chest area to produce an
image of the internal structures of the heart. The test
will take from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the patient's
condition and the type of echo needed.
test will help the doctor to evaluate:
well the heart is moving
well the valves are working
size of the heart and its pumping chambers (ventricles)
A transesophageal echocardiogram is a very effective
diagnostic ultrasound test that allows a physician to
look at the heart from a tube that is passed into the
esophagus. This test allows very clear images of many
parts of the heart structures and blood flow--usually
better than a traditional echocardiogram that views
the heart through the chest wall limiting clarity.
with any type of ultrasound test, sound waves are directed
to the heart via a transducer, and the heart deflects
the sound waves. Associated computerized equipment records
and analyzes the sound waves to:
the presence of congenital heart disease.
the presence of valve disease due to inability of
valves to open or close completely, leakage through
a valve when it is closed, and other structural abnormalities.
proper structure and function of the heart after corrective
heart surgery repair.
should I have this test?
A TEE helps your doctor detect abnormal tissue growth
around the heart's valves as well as abnormalities in
the blood flow. Sometimes, this procedure is performed
concurrently with a surgical procedure.
Nuclear Exams help define abnormalities in blood flow
and can define areas of possible damage. They also help
in defining wall motion and cardiac muscle function.
Additionally, they aid in determining ejection fraction
- the efficiency of the heart muscle. The exam itself
is performed with exercise or drugs to raise the heart
rate in order to see blood flow at rest and under load.
should I have this test?
Nuclear cardiac tests help your doctor in diagnosing
The Holter Monitor is a small portable electrocardiagram
(EKG) device which the patient takes home and wears
for a period of 24 hours during normal daily activity.
During that 24 hour time frame the Holter Monitor takes
EKG recordings of the heart's rhythm.
leads are placed on the patient's chest and attached
to a small tape recorder which can be hooked to a belt
or carried on a strap. While wearing the Holter monitor,
a diary of activities should be kept, and especially
report any complaints which may be related to the heart.
cardiogram leads become loosened or detached from the
chest with activity, they can be reinforced with tape.
A shirt or blouse which buttons in front is suggested
the monitor has been worn for 24 hours, it is taken
off and brought or sent to Mid Coast Hospital to be
"read." The recorded EKG is scanned electronically
to see if there are any abnormal heartbeats. If any
significant problem is found, the patient is notified
An event recorder is a small EKG device which the patient
can wear for weeks at a time. It is ideal for patients
who experience transient symptoms suggestive of a cardiac
arrhythmia. Our monitors are slightly larger than a
credit card and are capable of recording several events.
When the patient experiences any chest pain or abnormalities
they press a button to activate the device and begin
recording the heart's rhythm. Afterwards, the patient
can transmit results to Mid Coast Hospital over the
Many doctors will ask their patients to go through a
stress test to help them determine the cause of chest
pain as well as determine the capacity of the heart
for exercise after cardiac surgery or a heart attack.
A Treadmill Stress Test records the heart's electrical
activity (rate and rhythm) during exercise. During the
test, the cardiologist and a technician are present.
Electrodes will be placed on the chest the same as for
an electrocardiogram (EKG).
patient will be asked to walk on a motorized treadmill.
The speed and incline of the treadmill will be gradually
increased. The doctor will be looking for changes in
the EKG pattern and any symptoms that the patient may
experience. The patient may be on the treadmill for
up to 15 minutes, depending upon his level of recovery
and cardiovascular conditioning. The test will be stopped
if the patient becomes too tired or has any symptoms
such as chest pain.
test will last about 30 minutes.
test will help the doctor evaluate the patient's cardiac
condition related to:
Irregular heart rhythms
there is a decreased supply of blood and oxygen to
the heart with exercise
How hard the heart can work before symptoms develop
How quickly the heart recovers after exercise
The patient's overall level of cardiovascular conditioning
What the patient's target heart rate (THR) should