ECGs: How to treat heartbeat irregularities

Knowing how to read ECG's is part of knowing how to treat heartbeat irregularities
Photo by CC user Vera Kratochvil.

ECGs are performed on millions of people every year to assess their cardiac health – they’re most certainly one of the most common tests used to assess electrical activity around the heart.

One only has to look at all of the ECG electrodes that are available to realize the scope of this procedure; it’s suited to pretty much every type of patient, including children.

However, while the standard ECG is extremely effective, it’s not always the most efficient way to diagnose problems associated with irregular heartbeats.

There will be some occasions where patients just don’t reap the results that the doctor was preparing for. If a problem doesn’t stay constant, and is only present some of the time, it goes without saying that there’s a chance that it won’t flag on the standard procedure.

Fortunately, all is not lost. It’s on these occasions that doctors have the chance to revert to other forms of ECGs, which can be more suited to heartbeat irregularities. Let’s take a look at some of these options in detail when learning how to treat heartbeat irregularities.

Assessment during a stress test

This first option actually involves a standard EPG. The only difference is the way the patient acts during the procedure will be different.

It’s designed for those individuals who might incur problems whilst they are exercising. For this reason, the EPG is conducted during exercise – just so the irregularity has as high a chance as possible of replicating during the test.

Usually, the patient will walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike, while the EPG is hooked up to their body.

There are some alternative forms of this test as well. For example, for those patients who might have difficulty walking, injections are sometimes offered which will make the body react as if it is being put through exercise.

Holter monitoring

Some sources might class this as an ambulatory ECG monitor and it differs quite significantly to the other process we have just spoken about.

The standard ECG test will last for several minutes. Holter monitoring on the other hand will record your heart for 24 hours.

Unsurprisingly, the device is a little simpler than the one used in hospitals. It’s completely portable, with the electrodes attached to your chest leading to a device that is small enough to fit in your pocket.

The idea is that the patient records in writing what they have done during the day, allowing the doctor to analyze the readings on the monitor and see what could be causing any possible symptoms.

Event recording

The final alternative we’ll look at is somewhat similar to the Holter monitoring we discussed.

Event recording is usually reserved for those patients who incur infrequent symptoms. From the outset, the device actually looks quite similar to the Holter monitor. In reality, it’s not monitoring the patient constantly, but instead it only records data when instructed to do so.

In other words, if symptoms start to occur, the patient has the power to activate the recording before sending the results through to their doctor.