Know how each type of EKG test works
As a healthcare professional, you may provide and administer support to patients each day. If you’re training to become a medical assistant, patient care technician, or practical nurse, you may be learning how to administer an EKG.
EKGs, or electrocardiograms, are medical tests that helps measure and analyze abnormalities within the electrical activity of a patient’s heart. They are viewed by healthcare professionals as waves and lines on an electronic device.
These tests are given to patients when they have heart problems, had a possible heart attack, or have unexplained chest pain and pressure. EKGs help physicians determine what is occurring in the heart or respiratory system. They can also help them assess if a heart muscle is damaged, if there are any irregular rhythms or heartbeats, or if there is lack of oxygen or low blood levels. Sometimes patients undergo an EKG test to prepare them before a surgery.
If you’re in a healthcare training program where you’re learning to administer an EKG, also called an ECG, then you should know about the various different types of electrocardiograms. Here is a brief overview of the different types:
Resting 12-lead EKG: This EKG requires healthcare professionals, like medical assistants, to stick 10 electrodes to a patient’s chest, wrist, and ankles. These electrodes are hooked up to an electronic machine that records their heart’s electrical activity from 12 different views. This test can be completed within 10 minutes. This is one of the most common types of EKGs performed on patients to measure their reaction to stress.
Cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET): A CPET lets doctors analyze the cardiopulmonary system, or the heart and lungs. Electrical activity is recorded while a patient exercises to determine their heart’s rate and rhythms. 10 electrodes are attached to the patient’s arms, legs, lower torso, and chest area. Exercise EKG tests are non-invasive and painless. Plus, they can be completed within 10 minutes. It gives the physicians a better way of seeing how the blood flows and how muscles and tissues are functioning within the heart during exercise.
Exercise EKG (stress test): An exercise EKG or stress test is different kind of exercise EKG administered to patients. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest to see how the heart changes while they exercise or exert physical activity. Abnormalities in the heart can be detected better when the patient works out or while symptoms are known to be present. Before the test, a resting EKG is administered so it can be analyzed against the exercise test to see any differences between the two. During the exercise test, a patient may walk or run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. Doctors are more easily able to assess how to treat patients with angina, find heart problems, and learn how they can tolerate physical activity after a heart attack or surgery. Medical assistants and practical nurses may be required to administer this EKG when doctors want to find out if certain heart medications are effective, to check if there are blockages, or to help improve exercise routines for patients with heart issues.
Holter monitor: This type of EKG test is used to test patients’ heart rhythms over a 24-48 hour period. Patients wear a small device that tracks their heart rate and records fluctuations in their heartbeats. Sometimes these tests are follow-ups after common resting electrocardiographs which don’t offer enough information when performed. Wireless Holter monitors may be worn by patients at home or in nursing facilities over the course of weeks to record more in-depth analysis of the heart and its rhythms.
Signal-averaged electrocardiogram: This EKG is more detailed than the other varities. Electrodes are hooked up to a patient for 20 minutes to test hundreds of cardiac cycles to better detect abnormalities and any more subtle risks of cardiac arrhythmias. A computer system reads electrical signals produced by the heart and averages them so the physician may asses how well the heart is functioning.
Are you interested in learning and watching how EKGs work in person? In our patient care technician or practical nursing training program you could learn how to administer an EKG to help others improve their health status each day!
Harris Casel features six healthcare training programs at our campus in Melbourne, Florida. For more information on our programs, contact us at a convenient time. We look forward to hearing from you!