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An 12-lead ECG is done to:
- Check early signs of cardiac risk in 12-lead ECG and identify patients in early stages of cardiac risk.
- Check your heart when you have a family history of heart disease. It is essential to look for early heart disease if your mother, father, brother, or sister had heart disease—especially early in life.
- Check your heart when you have had heart problems in the past.
- Check the heart’s electrical activity. Also important is a comparison of the current 12-lead ECG with a previous 12-lead ECG.
- Find the cause of unexplained chest pain or pressure. This could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
- Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease. Symptoms include palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, heartbeats that are rapid and irregular, heart pounding, racing or fluttering, or the sense that your heart is beating unevenly, breathing problems, tiredness and weakness, etc.
- Pay more attention to Brugada syndrome, Wellen’s syndrome, de Winter T-waves, STEMI (STD; STE in III>II; Horizontal or convex upwards STE; new Q-waves), Early reciprocal changes in aVL, STE in both aVR and aVL, STE in aVR > STE in V1, Low voltage plus tachycardia, Long QT, T-wave inversions in anteroseptal plus inferior leads, and many other possible abnormalities that may cause sudden death.
- Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick.
- Check how well medicines are working and see if they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
- Check how well mechanical devices implanted in the heart, such as pacemakers, are working (these devices help to control the heartbeat).
- Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and a family history of early heart disease.
- Screen your heart for early heart disease which has no symptoms.
In the United States, more than a third of the adults have at least one type of heart diseases. It is not at all unusual to know personally someone suffering from one of the heart diseases or who experienced sudden death due to a cardiac disorder. Sometimes heart disease occurs without expressing symptoms. However, electrical system to the heart malfunctions and abnormalities may have been present and detectable via an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Having a normal ECG in a physician’s office does not rule out potential serious heart disease since a patient may be asymptomatic in the physician’s office, and yet experience symptoms elsewhere. Thus, if the patient has access to a portable ECG device, the patient can initiate an ECG check when certain signs and symptoms appear, and the physician can correlate the patient’s ECG with the patient’s notation of symptoms — information that is crucial for an accurate diagnosis.
12-lead ECG records ECGs from 12 different views of the heart, and provides a complete picture of cardiac electrical activity. 1-lead ECG has inherent deficiencies compared to 12-lead ECG and misses out on many cardiac problems.
Once heart disease is detected, it is possible to determine the appropriate course of action; for example, certain lifestyle changes are implemented, medications are taken as prescribed and interventional cardiac procedures or surgeries are performed as recommended.
The ECG is a test that checks for heart problems by detecting cardiac abnormalities with the electrical activity of your heart. The 12-lead ECG is crucial in detecting cardiac arrhythmias and myocardial infarction. It also helps identify other heart diseases, including cardiac hypertrophy, heart inflammation, coronary artery disease, heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, etc. The 12-lead ECG has become the most commonly conducted cardiovascular diagnostic procedure and is a fundamental tool in clinical practice.
EKG recordings can help diagnose heart attacks that are in progress or have happened in the past. This is especially true if a current ECG recording can be compared to an older one.
An ECG also can show:
- Lack of blood flow to the heart muscle (coronary heart disease)
- A heartbeat that’s too fast, too slow, or irregular (arrhythmia)
- A heart that doesn’t pump forcefully enough (heart failure)
- Heart muscle that’s too thick or parts of the heart that are too big (cardiomyopathy)
- Birth defects in the heart (congenital heart defects)
- Problems with the heart valves (heart valve disease)
- Inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericarditis)
An ECG can reveal whether the heartbeat starts in the correct place in the heart. The test also shows how long it takes for electrical signals to travel through the heart. Delays in signal travel time may suggest heart block or long QT syndrome.