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Electrocardiogram

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It is called electrocardiogram to the graphic that is generated using a electrocardiograph , a device that takes care of record the electrical activity of the heart . This type of study allows diagnosing different cardiovascular diseases and helps to know the state of the heart muscle.

Also know as ECG , the electrocardiogram is performed by placing electrodes in various parts of body of the patient. These electrodes, which are attached to the skin with snaps or velcro straps, are connected to the electrocardiograph through wires. In this way, the electrodes record the electrical signals of the heart and the electrocardiograph is responsible for measuring them, translating them into a continuous roll of paper that constitutes the electrocardiogram.

There is a specific drawing that is considered as a normal electrocardiogram: a P wave (corresponding to atrial depolarization), a QRS complex (ventricular depolarization) and a T wave (ventricular repolarization). This plot reveals that there are no electrical changes in the heartbeat. Other types of graphics, however, can give a signal about a cardiac abnormality.

Through an electrocardiogram it is possible to detect an arterial blockage, a arrhythmia , a ventricular hypertrophy or an electrolyte alteration, to name a few possibilities. This is why this test is one of the most frequently used tools by cardiologists.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that not all diseases and heart disorders can be detected by an electrocardiogram, since this is limited to portraying electrical signals. There are pathologies that can only be discovered with a Doppler ultrasound (ecodoppler ) or with other kinds of studies.

At the statistical level, it is known that many medical students are afraid of not being able to understand the basis of the electrocardiogram to read it correctly. This happens especially the first time they face one, and the fear is due in large part to the pressure they know will exist the day they should interpret it in front of a patient, without time to think or go to a book.

However, the problem does not lie in the complexity of the electrocardiogram but in the way in which university professors present it to their students: without explaining the origin of the waves that compose it, nor of the possible anomalies in case of illness. In other words, it is necessary to learn the theory but also to have a context to properly understand such a graph, since it always comes from a real person, whose clinic history We should also know to make an accurate judgment.

One of the tips to follow when facing an electrocardiogram is to read it in a systematic way, in order to find one or more anomalies . This way of dealing with interpretation is the same as in many other medical studies, since we must never quickly look for the points that attract our attention, but look at the whole document in order.

It is very important to know that the electrocardiogram looks different in each person, that is to say that both the image of normality and the opposite are particular in each one, and that is why they must be understood in context. To prepare a medical student properly it is necessary to teach a lot of stereotypes , of possible normal paths, so that you learn to adapt dynamically to the situation of each patient.

This leads us to the fundamental step before reading an electrocardiogram: knowing the patient. We must not forget that this record of his cardiac activity starts from him, and that is why it is necessary to know his state of health, his personality, his habits and his activities, which often alert us to a heart attack before the electrocardiogram.

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