The Difference Between an Electrocardiogram and an EKG
When it comes to your heart health, you want the absolute best. Your heart handles a lot of work daily, and occasionally, you'll need to get it tested to ensure peak performance and help forecast future health problems like heart disease or increased risk of a heart attack.
Whether you're going for some routine testing or your health care provider is trying to get to the root of recurring chest pain and shortness of breath, you've likely been referred to a technician for an ECG or EKG. So, is there a difference between the two terms? Will a cardiologist recommend one over the other?
An EKG or ECG is a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are no differences between an electrocardiogram and an EKG. Keep reading to learn more about this and other common heart tests.
What is an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart. It's a standard test used to check the health of your heart. An ECG machine can measure the heart's electrical activity by placing electrode stickers on the skin. The electrodes can detect the tiny electrical signals created each time the heart muscle contracts. These signals are then sent to the ECG machine, which records them as a graph.
This machine measures the heart's electrical activity by recording the heart's rhythm and the voltage of the heartbeats. This information is then displayed on a screen, which allows the doctor to diagnose any heart conditions that the patient may have. The ECG machine is also used to monitor the progress of a patient who is being treated for a heart condition. By monitoring the ECG, the doctor can see how well the patient responds to the treatment and make any necessary adjustments for a healthy heart.
Your heart is like a pump that pushes blood through your body. The electrical activity of your heart is what makes the heart muscle contract and push the blood. An ECG records the timing and strength of the electrical activity of your heart. Doctors can use this information to show how well your heart is working. Doctors can use the test to diagnose heart problems, such as heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmia. Medical professionals can also use it to see how well treatment is working.
What are the differences in electrocardiogram vs EKG?
By all estimates, you're using two different names for the same test when comparing electrocardiogram vs EKG. An EKG test has its name from the German spelling "elektrokardiogramm." An ECG machine records the electrical activity of the heart and displays waves on a graph. The waves are measured in millimeters (mm) and are called complexes. The complexes are numbered, and each one is given a name.
The first complex is the P wave. This wave comes from the electrical activity that spreads from the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to the ventricles (the heart's lower chambers). The P wave precedes the QRS complex, caused by the electrical activity that spreads from the ventricles to the rest of the body. The QRS complex is followed by the T wave, which is caused by the electrical activity that extends from the ventricles to the atria.
Observers typically describe these waves by their height, width, and shape. The size of a wave is measured in millimeters (mm) and is the distance from the baseline to the highest point of the wave. The width of a wave is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is the distance from the beginning of one complex to the beginning of the following complex. The shape of a wave is described by its deflection. A wave is deflected to the right if it is moving to the right of the baseline, and it is deflected to the left if it is moving to the left of the baseline.
If you're looking for other heart condition tests that can examine for symptoms of heart disease, your health care provider may order an echocardiogram or exercise stress test.
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound that uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart. This test can help your doctor see how well your heart works and identify any problems.
An echocardiogram is typically done as an outpatient procedure. You will often need to remove your clothes from the waist up and put on a gown. The technician will apply a gel to your chest and then place a transducer (a small wand) on your skin. The transducer sends sound waves through your chest to your heart. The sound waves reflect off your heart and are picked up by the transducer. The reflected sound waves create an image of your heart displayed on a monitor.
Your doctor may also order a stress echocardiogram. For this test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. While you are exercising, the technician will take images of your heart. This test can help your doctor see how your heart responds to exercise.
Choose a trusted provider for all of your medical testing needs.
Whether or not you're dealing with a heart problem, it helps to work with a trusted cardiologist or health care provider that can recommend the appropriate testing and care for your needs. For example, a trusted provider can help you determine when an electrocardiograph is the right move and guide you toward medications or treatments to keep your heart as strong as possible.
If you're ready to take complete control of your health, contact Dr. Arash Bereliani at Beverly Hills Institute for Cardiology and Preventive Medicine. With our team, you'll get personalized treatment and recommended steps to improve and maintain your heart health.