An electrocardiogram or ECG is a non-invasive diagnostic test to record the electrical voltage in the heart so as to understand its functioning and regularity of heart beats. The electrocardiogram or EKG can help in diagnosing cardiovascular disease. The ECG is used to check for any damage to the heart and regulate the functioning of the pacemaker.
An electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity within the heart, thereby throwing light on the how the heart muscles function. This test is not painful. An ECG is recommended for patients who complain of regular chest pain or palpitations to check for the normal functioning of the heart. It can help in detecting heart attack or (ischaemia) ischemia. If a patient suffers from hypothermia, pulmonary embolism, mitral stenosis or left ventricular hypertrophy, an EKG can help in diagnosis.
Other non-cardiac problems such as drug overdose or electrolyte imbalance can be diagnosed with an EKG. Abnormal results from an ECG test may be indicative of arrhythmia, myocarditis, impending heart attack or enlarged heart.
Treadmill stress test
A treadmill stress test is used to evaluate any irregular heart beats on exercise and exertion. Those suffering from borderline hypertension may be asked to undergo treadmill stress test to evaluate blood pressure response to exercise. The treadmill stress test is a cardiac stress test that is used to diagnose coronary artery disease or any heart-related ailments. Treadmill Stress Test is sometimes called an exercise electrocardiogram. The person is fitted with electrodes in about 10 locations on the arm and chest to measure blood pressure and EKG. Then the treadmill is started, initially at slow pace and later much faster. Some heart medications may be need to be stopped for a day or two. The treadmill stress test is much like any strenuous exercise such as running up a flight of stairs. It is essential that the treadmill stress test is conducted under proper supervision. This test indicates how well the heart functions and if the blood supply in the arteries is reduced on exertion. Persons scheduled for treadmill stress test must not eat or drink for about 3 hours prior to the test.
Cardiologists are physicians who diagnose and treat ailments related to the cardiovascular system that comprises of the heart, arteries, and veins. Pediatric cardiologist is a physician who focuses on diagnosing and treating heart problems in infants, children and young adults. Cardiologists specialize in treatment of angina (chest pain), heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and irregular heart beats. A cardiologist has to complete medical school and undergo residency in internal medicine for a period of three years. Further three years of specialization in the field of cardiology is required. For pediatric cardiologists a specialization in pediatrics is required prior to cardiology specialization. Cardiologists are specialists who provide complete heart care; they can determine the working condition of a person's heart by means of different tests. The responsibilities of the cardiologist include:
- The primary function of a cardiologist is to check on how well a person's heart is working.
- They determine this by asking for various tests like the treadmill test (exercise electrocardiogram), and through procedures like angioplasty, cardiac catheterization etc.
- They offer treatments for the diagnosed heart diseases through interventional cardiology like angioplasty, where a mechanical device is used to set right the problem in the heart.
- They use electrophysiology that helps in treating the electrical functioning of the heart.
- They also have the additional responsibility of keeping control over the factors that determine the health of the heart such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These levels in the blood of a person are kept under control thus keeping the heart comfortably functioning.
Modern techniques used in the field of cardiology
With the advancement in the field of medicine, cardiologists have the access to the latest technologies like:
Auscultation: A stethoscope is used to identify and detect heart abnormalities and murmur in the heart.
Echocardiography: Ultrasonic waves are used to visualize the heart.
Electrocardiography: EKG instruments are used to monitor the electrical activity of the heart.
Holter monitor: Records the EKG for 24 hours and more non-stop.
Modern blood tests: Determining the levels of HDL, LDL, triglycerides, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein helps in easy identification of heart problems.
Stress testing: Determines the levels of stress and cardiac function of the heart.
Coronary catheterization: Functioning of the heart is determined by inserting a catheter into the heart.