The electrocardiogram is the graphic recording of the electrical activity of the heart and the variations that occur during the cardiac contraction (systole) and the relaxation (diastole) of the atria and ventricles while our cardiac muscle is working. The data is collected thanks to the usage of electrodes placed above the body surface.
The electrocardiogram is the easiest and most practical method to observe the electrical activity of the heart.
Why and when is it recommended to carry out an electrocardiogram?
The ECG is an outpatient diagnostic exam that records and observes the electrical activity of the heart graphically.
By monitoring the blood pumping activity that the heart performs through contraction and relaxation, it is possible to detect the presence of a heart disease or a rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) (1).
The heart problems in which the role of the electrocardiogram is vital are:
• Angina pectoris;
• Ischemic heart disease in its various clinical forms;
• Cardiac conduction anomalies;
• Heart attack;
• Heart valve disease;
• Heart failure
How does the electrocardiogram work?
The electrodes are applied to the patient’s skin and are connected through electrical wires to a device called electrocardiograph.
The wires and the electrodes detect and transmit the electrical activity of the heart to the electrocardiograph which processes it and prints it on paper in the form of a graphic trace (electrocardiogram).
In case of particular heart pathologies, it is necessary to monitor the heart for an extended time equal to or longer than 24 hours; in this case the exam is called cardiac holter monitoring.
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 The role of the ECG in diagnosis, risk estimation, and catheterization laboratory activation in patients with acute coronary syndromes: a consensus document - Birnbaum Y, Nikus K, Kligfield P, Fiol M, Barrabés JA, Sionis A, Pahlm O, Niebla JG, de Luna AB. Ann Noninvasive Electrocardiol. (2014)