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3 or 4 lead vs. 12 lead ECG/EKG

ECG or EKG stands for electrocardiogram. This is the record of the electrical activity of the heart over a given period of time. The electrocardiogram is recorded by using several painlessly attached leads around the body that pick up the electrical activity of the heart and record it on a piece of paper. A technician with proper training obtains the ECG/EKG. When viewed by some one experienced in electrophysiology such as a cardiologist, determinations about the health of the heart can be made.

The electrocardiogram is both a diagnostic tool and a monitoring device. As a diagnostic tool the 12 lead ECG/EKG is best. Using six limb leads that look through the heart in a vertical plane and six chest leads that look through the heart in a horizontal plane. The 12 lead ECG gives the most information about not only rate and rhythm of the heart but also about any damage that may have or maybe occurring in the muscle fibers. This is where depolarizing and repolarizing activities give rise to the wave forms on the electrocardiogram tracing.

 

The twelve lead ECG/EKG can be preformed at rest for a baseline at hospital admission or preoperatively. This way there is a tracing for comparison should future events occurs that may have damaged the heart. The 12 lead ECG/EKG is also part of a stress test where through exercise or medication the heart is made to work harder. Under stress signs of ischemia or lack of oxygen may appear. A 12 lead ECG/EKG is best able to determine the area where this ischemia is occurring.

 

 

ECG/EKG Diagnostics

A four lead electrocardiogram is primarily used for monitoring purposes. A four lead ECG/EKG is used during surgery, in recovery or telemetry settings when changes in the hearts rate or rhythm may occur suddenly. While ischemic events can still occur in these settings, noting the changes in rate and rhythm are the most important aspects to be monitored at these times. If rate and rhythm changes are noted then a more thorough 12 lead ECG/EKG can be ordered.

Measuring electrical activity of the heart is critical for both diagnosis of heart disease and monitoring cardiac activity in well patients at risk and patients who are ill. As important members of the health care team ECG/EKG technicians are trained to perform both types of ECG/EKGs and to know the importance of each.

Cardiovascular Technologist

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