Ever since the invention of the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), the domain of cardiac care has been revolutionized. It has become a pivotal tool in monitoring the electrical activity of the heart and providing worthy insights into heart problems. Through an ECG test, the patient gets a vivid picture of the electrical impulses of their heart. In this blog, we aim to provide you with all the details regarding the working of an ECG device and why it is an inseparable part of cardiac care. 

An ECG machine has three main components- electrodes, leads, and a recording device. The electrodes are attached to the various parts of the patient’s body. Moreover, the leads connect the electrodes to the recording device monitoring the electrical activity of the heart. 

How does an ECG record the heart’s electrical activity?

An ECF records the heart’s electrical activity through the following steps:-

  • Electrode Placement:
    In the first step, the electrodes are placed on the various parts of the patient’s skin. These electrodes capture electrical impulses radiated by the heart from various angles. 
  • Signal Capture:
    After the appropriate placement of the electrodes, they capture the signals produced by the heart with each beat.
  • Graphical Representation:
    These signals captured by an ECG are represented in the form of a graph on the paper or the monitor. This representation of an electrocardiogram is known as an ECG waveform.

ECG Waves and Intervals

The following are the details of the most common ECG waves and intervals. If your heart condition is perfect, these ECG waves and intervals represent no disruption.

  1. P wave:
    The P-wave is atrial depolarization, the electrical signals that propel the atria, i.e. the upper chambers of the heart to contract and push the blood to the ventricles.
  2. QRS complex:
    The ORS complex in the ECG represents ventricular depolarization. These are the electrical signals of the heart that trigger ventricular contraction. 
  3. T wave:
    The T-wave typically represents ventricular repolarization. This illustrates the recovery phase of the ventricles. 
  4. PR interval:
    The PR interval is the measure of the time interval taken by each electrical impulse to reach from the atria to the ventricles. 
  5. QT interval:
    The time taken by the ventricles to depolarize, i.e. contract and repolarize, i.e. enter the recovery phase is defined as the QT interval. 

Heart Abnormalities Detected by an ECG

An electrocardiogram can detect the following heart abnormalities:-

  • Heart Rate:-
    If your pulse is difficult to feel, then an ECG can detect your heart rate. It can identify if the heart is beating too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). The elevated or decreased heart rate can be a part of P-wave, T-wave, or QRS complex abnormalities. 
  • Heart Rhythm:-
    An ECG can efficiently detect the irregularities in the heartbeats, i.e. a variety of arrhythmias. 
  • Heart Attack:-
    An ECG test can give you insights into the previous heart attacks on the one that is presently happening. The patterns illustrated by an ECG can tell you which part of the heart is strained and how much it is strained. 
  • Blood and Oxygen Supply to the Heart:-
    Through an ECG test can you find if the blood flow to the heart is reduced. This is especially effective when you are having symptoms such as chest pain. 
  • Heart Structure Changes:-
    The patterns in the ECG test can give you insights into the structure changes of the heart. It will let you know if your heart is enlarged, or you are encountering heart defects or other heart problems. 
  • Ischemia:-
    An ECG test can determine if the blood flow to the muscle of the heart through the coronary artery is partially disrupted.

In conclusion, an electrocardiogram is truly a revolutionary invention. With the usage of minimal tools like electrodes, leads, and a recording device, the device can provide you with details of major heart problems within a few minutes. Its usage by healthcare professionals in the realm of cardiac care is mandatory to determine even the slightest of heart issues. 

Apart from this, with the invention of portable ECG devices, people can now monitor the electrical activity of their hearts at their convenience and detect potential threats if they encounter any cardiac symptoms.