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Abnormal heartbeats, also known as arrhythmias, can be either a simple annoyance or a life threatening emergency. A heart that beats too fast is referred to as a tachycardia and a heart beat that is too slow is known as a bradycardia. An EKG can detect both types of abnormalities during a pain-free test that generally lasts under 30 minutes.
What Does EKG Stand For?
EKG is short for ‘electrocardiogram’ which is a diagnostic tool for measuring the electrical activity of the heart, also known as the heartbeat. The American Heart Association explains that EKG readings offer two invaluable forms of information 1. One of the readings gives physicians insight into how long it takes for electrical waves to pass their way through the heart and the second type of reading shows if any areas of the heart are working improperly.
What Does Abnormal Mean?
The 24 Hour Heart Monitor Test
When an abnormality is diagnosed with an EKG it means that the electrical system of the heart is not working properly. Cells within the heart send electrically charged signals that cause heart muscles to contract. According to MedicineNet.com, these contractions send the necessary blood supplies to the body 2. Damaged heart cells can cause the electrical system of the heart to function improperly—causing an abnormality apparent on the EKG.
- When an abnormality is diagnosed with an EKG it means that the electrical system of the heart is not working properly.
- Damaged heart cells can cause the electrical system of the heart to function improperly—causing an abnormality apparent on the EKG.
What Causes Heartbeat Abnormalities?
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics report that there are many different causes of abnormal heartbeats that can be picked up by an EKG 3. A heart attack is one of these causes as well as, disease and infection. Medications that stimulate the heart can also interfere with the heartbeat and cause it to become irregular.
The Holter Monitor
Abnormal EKG Waves
According to the Mayo Clinic, when an EKG is unable to provide the necessary information that a physician is looking for, a Holter monitor may be introduced into the evaluation. The Holter monitor is a device that is worn for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours at a time and provides a longer and more thorough reading of heartbeat activity.
Heartbeats that are too slow can cause lightheadedness, faintness and feelings of fatigue. On the other hand, a heart that beats too fast can fail to pump adequate amounts of blood throughout the body. An abnormal heartbeat can worsen over time resulting in collapse if it becomes too irregular. If the heart stops beating altogether, death can occur.
- Heartbeats that are too slow can cause lightheadedness, faintness and feelings of fatigue.
- On the other hand, a heart that beats too fast can fail to pump adequate amounts of blood throughout the body.
The 24 Hour Heart Monitor Test
Abnormal EKG Waves
Abnormal Heart Beat and Shortness of Breath
How to Reverse a Heart Enlargement
Types of Heart Monitors to Check for Arrhythmia
How to Hear Your Own Heartbeat Without a Stethoscope
How to Read an EKG for Dummies
What Are the Treatments for Cardiomegaly?
How to Read an Abnormal EKG
Normal Pulse Rate at 13 Years Old
- American Heart Association
- University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics
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Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.