Gulf Coast Internists
Internist located in New Port Richey, FL & Palm Harbor, FL
Your heart is a valuable organ that keeps you alive by pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. If it malfunctions, Cristobal Rosario, MD, PA, and the team at Gulf Coast Internists in New Port Richey and Palm Harbor, Florida, may use an electrocardiogram to assess it to make sure your heart is functioning properly. To find out more about electrocardiograms and when you might need one, call Gulf Coast Internists or book an appointment online today.
What is an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram is a test that shows your heart’s activity. Your heartbeats happen when electrical impulses travel through the muscles in your heart. An electrocardiogram provides a way for your doctor to view these impulses on paper and assess them for complications affecting your heart’s health.
Your blood flows through four chambers in your heart. As your blood moves through the upper two chambers, called the atria, the electrical impulse associated with the muscle movement forms a spike on the electrocardiogram graph. This spike is called the P wave.
As your blood flows through the two lower chambers, called the ventricles, a fluctuation appears on the graph called a QRS complex. The final wave on the graph, called a T wave, appears when the lower chambers return to their resting state. The team at Gulf Coast Internists assesses your graph and looks for abnormalities in the waves.
What should I expect during an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram is completely noninvasive and harmless to your health. During the test, the team places 12 electrodes at various points on your chest, arms, and legs.
The electrodes act as sensors and can pick up on electrical impulses from your body. Wires connect the electrodes to a monitor that records the electrical signals and displays them on a screen. The machine also prints the graph on paper.
During the test, you must sit completely still and avoid talking, laughing, sneezing, and coughing. The results are available right away and your doctor can interpret them.
When might I need an electrocardiogram?
The team at Gulf Coast Internists tells you whether the information from an electrocardiogram is valuable for your diagnosis or treatment. You should book an appointment for a possible electrocardiogram if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Rapid pulse
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
If you don’t have any symptoms and are not at a higher risk for heart complications due to your age, medical history, or genetic predispositions, the team uses other testing methods instead.
What can an electrocardiogram show?
An electrocardiogram can help the team diagnose several heart conditions or complications. It can also give them valuable information about your medical history related to your cardiovascular health. An electrocardiogram can show:
- If you’ve had a heart attack in the past
- Coronary artery disease (constricted or blocked arteries)
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Pacemaker functioning or problems
If the results of your electrocardiogram identify a problem with your heart’s functioning, the team tells you if you require treatment and whether you’ll need to make changes to your lifestyle to improve your heart’s health. They can also refer you to a cardiac specialist for further treatment if necessary.
To find out if an electrocardiogram is necessary for your diagnosis, call Gulf Coast Internists or request an appointment online today.