Medical science has made enormous progress throughout the years, preserving and improving the lives of millions of people. With the advancements and technical complexity in the medical sector reaching new heights, understanding your diagnosis can be challenging and frustrating. Especially given the confusing nature of medical jargon and the importance of understanding what each phrase means in order to make the best decisions.
In this regard, we will take a closer look at the two medical diagnostic tests – electrocardiogram(EKG/ECG) and echocardiogram- that are often recommended for heart patients by cardiologists.
Electrocardiograms (ECGs) and echocardiograms (echos) are tests that can detect issues with heart muscles, valves, or the rhythm of the heartbeat. Keep reading to get a thorough understanding of both tests and how they work and the results they show.
Also known as ECG or EKG, an electrocardiogram is a simple non-invasive diagnostic test used to determine the rhythm and electrical imbalances in the heart. ECG machines are standard equipment in operating rooms and ambulances.
How it’s done
During an ECG, you are made to lie flat on your back and up to 12 electrodes (small adhesive sensors) are attached to your chest and limbs. These sensors are connected to a computer that keeps track of the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat. The data is stored in the computer and is then displayed as waves on the monitor or on paper.
You are allowed to breathe during the exam, but you must remain completely still. Make sure you’re warm and comfortable before lying down. Moving, talking, or shivering may cause the test to fail.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a common and low-cost examination. As they are inexpensive and completely non-invasive (they don’t require needles or cuts), they are even recommended for people who show no visible signs of underlying heart conditions.
You might even get one during a routine medical exam, especially if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with heart disease. If you go to the emergency room with chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, difficulty breathing, or even simply overall weakness, your doctor may suggest an electrocardiogram.
Also known as an ultrasound scan, echo, or sonar of the heart, an echocardiogram is also a non-invasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to study the structure and functions of your heart and blood vessels. These high-frequency sound waves, when emitted into the body, ‘echo’ back, allowing us to observe the heart and all of its structures in real-time.
How it’s done
There are different types of echocardiograms available. Your doctor will request one based on the information they require. The two most commonly used types are –
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): Electrodes (small adhesive sensors) will be attached to your chest during the exam. These electrodes are connected to a machine that will measure your heartbeat. Your chest is then lubricated with a gel and an ultrasonic probe is moved across it as you lie on your left side. A cable connects the probe to a nearby machine that will display and record the images it generates.
- Transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE): Here a smaller probe is passed down your throat into your food pipe (oesophagus) and sometimes into your stomach (the procedure is conducted under a local anaesthetic spray and you will also be given sedatives to help you relax); You may need to fast for several hours before taking this test.
Echocardiography is performed for a variety of reasons. When compared to other imaging techniques, echocardiography is a very affordable procedure. Plus, since this is a non-invasive procedure it is also a go-to procedure among doctors for ruling out heart disease and other heart-related issues.
Difference between Echo and ECG
The following is a parallel comparison of the key features of ECG vs echocardiogram to extend your grasp of the two jargon.
|Used to examine the electrical system of the heart||Used to examine the mechanical system of the heart|
|The end result shows a wave-like diagram||The end result shows a picture of the heart|
|It takes roughly 5 minutes to complete the test. The majority of that time is spent attaching the sensors; the recording itself only takes a few seconds to generate.||It takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. 5 minutes will most likely be spent preparing for the procedure, and 15 minutes will be spent taking scans(pictures) of the heart. The test may take longer in some circumstances, depending on the exact information necessary.|
|Detects irregular heart rhythm. Detects where the blood supply is blocked or interrupted within the heart.Monitors implanted pacemaker. Gives a baseline tracing of the heart’s function.||Detects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart. Detects birth defects that affect the normal working of the heart. Used to find the areas of damage or blockage in case of a heart attack|
In conclusion, both these procedures are extremely important diagnostic methods for determining the cause of a wide range of heart issues. They are both simple, non-invasive and inexpensive when compared to other diagnostic tools.
If your general healthcare practitioner recommends either of these tests, reach out to Ayu Health Hospitals to get the best care and services. With the top healthcare personnel and equipment, you can request our services in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Delhi (NCR). Call us at +91 – 6366 100 800 for a consultation or book an appointment online!
About the Author
Dr. Magesh Balakrishnan
He has 16 years of experience in this field. He has excellent skills in performing all cardiac diagnostic procedures/ tests. He has performed emergency and elective angiographies and angioplasties, device implantation (Pacemaker, AICD & CRT)