EKG and ECHO

Mar 23, 2012 , Translated by Kristina Knazko

ekg-a-echo.jpg - kopie
ekg-a-echo.jpg - kopie
EKG and ECHO are among the most common cardiological and internal methods of examination. EKG and ECHO are accessible and efficient methods to monitor current heart function and provide quick diagnosis of possible disorders. EKG and ECHO are painless examination methods that do not burden the patient.

EKG and ECHO

The incidences of circulator illnesses, has unfortunately been rising inexorably in recent years. The cause of this rise is primarily high blood pressure, unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, poor diet and a lack of exercise. All of these factors contribute significantly to atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, which causes a significant proportion of illnesses and deaths. These diseases of the cardiovascular system are the main causes of death in developed countries and about 18 million people die from them worldwide.

Electrocardiography

EKG, ECG or electrocardiograph is an important examining method in the diagnosis of heart diseases. The main advantage is its excellent accessibility, efficiency and method of measurement that does not burden the patient. The examination occurs while the patient is lying down and 10 electrodes are attached – 1 on each leg and 6 on the front of the chest. These electrodes detect the changes in electric potential on the skin, which arise when the muscle of the heart is at work. These need to be strengthened in order to provide accurate measurements. The result of the examination is the electrocardiogram, a curve consisting of spikes and waves on a graph corresponding to the heart's activity over time. Due to the electrode placements, values from different parts of the heart are obtained, allowing the doctor to determine the location of any possible changes. Even though EKG should be a part of everyone's yearly visit to the physician, it is performed mainly in certain cases where there is suspicion of heart attack, chest pain during physical activity, irregular heartbeat, collapse or other. In special cases, a 24 hour EKG can be used; a portable EKG that is connected to a patient for a whole day. This allows the detection of any changes during various daily situations.

Echocardiography

An ECHO or echocardiograph is a very important method of examination of the appearance and function of the heart, which usually follows suspicious EKG results. This method uses ultrasounds; waves which are reflected at the interface of different tissues, allowing them to be viewed. An ECHO can be performed from the front of the chest or by the introduction of a device into the esophagus, where the image is even clearer. This examination can help estimate the size of the individual cardiac chambers, the thickness of their walls as well as the functioning of the valves. Heart contractions, the movements of individual parts, the direction and force of the blood flow, etc, can be monitored. As with the EKG, the patient lies down and to be able to better navigate the ultrasonic waves, a conductive gel is applied to the chest. The whole procedure does not take more than 10 minutes. It can be more difficult to examine a patient that is obese. Both the examinations can also be performed during physical stress, which may also reveal problems that were not detected at rest. Physical stress can be brought on by exercise, or induced by certain medications.

Indicators of EKG and ECHO

Indicators are a set of circumstances that lead to the use of certain diagnostic or therapeutic methods. EKG is used for diagnosing acute or chronic chest pain or palpitations i.e. pounding of the heart. An ECHO is used in suspected valve defects, infectious endocarditis, congenital heart defects, cardiac arrhythmias, aortic aneurysms or cardiomyopathy.

EKG, ECHO and Further Treatment

There are of course many other diagnostic methods that are widely used in cardiology. Thanks to quality diagnosis, correct treatment is much easier to determine, but is not always able to eliminate all identified problems. Treatment is often focused on alleviating symptoms and preventing life-threatening conditions. The patient's cooperation is very important as well. With strict adherence to medical recommendations, the quality of life despite an ill heart, can still be very high.

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