How Do EKGs Work?

Electrocardiograms, also called ECGs or EKGs, have been a fixture in medicine in some form since the 1880s. They record and monitor the heart rate of patients. Modern EKGs can detect a variety of things in the heart, including blood flow and heart rate. EKG tests are an essential part of evaluating a person’s health.

But how do EKGs work? And why are they so effective in examining the heart? In this blog, the health specialists at 1st Choice Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California, discuss what EKGs are and what they do. 

What is an EKG?

Many attempts were made to develop a device that could monitor a patient’s heart, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the dream came to fruition. The device that would become the electrocardiogram was invented in 1887 by British physiologist Augustus Waller to record heart activity from the surface of the skin, which he called a capillary electrometer. 

Before this, examining heart activity was very difficult. The development of the electrocardiogram gave doctors the ability to monitor the heart in a way that changed the world of medicine. Many other inventors would refine the technology to give us the devices we have today, which are invaluable in examining the heart and helping to determine treatment.

What can an EKG do?

An EKG can examine the heart in a variety of ways, including:

By giving doctors the ability to monitor different aspects of a patient’s heart activity, EKGs can help doctors see if someone has had a heart attack, help predict the chances of one happening, help check for congenital heart abnormalities, and help check for impairment of blood flow.

How do EKGs work?

Since your heartbeat is triggered by electrical impulses, EKG uses sensing devices ― called leads ― which are placed on specific areas of the chest, arms and legs to test the timing and the strength of those impulses as they travel through the heart. 

An electrocardiogram is often referred to as a 12-lead EKG, because it examines 12 different areas of the heart. Since abnormal heart rhythms fluctuate, sometimes other heart monitoring devices may be used to help diagnose. 

Electrocardiograms continue to be an important asset in helping examine heart activity. If you think you may be dealing with problems related to your heart, don’t hesitate to make an appointment over the phone with 1st Choice Urgent Care.

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