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Can Ecg Tell Heart Attack

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What The Study Found

UCSF Researchers Find EKG Can Help Predict Heart Attacks in Healthy Elderly People

In this study, 204 patients with chest pain received both a standard 12-lead ECG and an ECG through a smartphone with the AliveCor app using a special two-wire attachment.

According to Muhlestein, heart attacks happen in different parts of the heart. A typical ECG has 12 wires and each one looks at a different area.

To approximate the same level of accuracy with the AliveCor app, the two wires are moved around the body to examine all 12 parts.

Researchers found the ECG app with the two-wire attachment could accurately diagnose a STEMI heart attack compared to the traditional ECG.

The app can record an ECG wherever you are and send it into the cloud where it can be reviewed immediately by a cardiologist, said Muhlestein.

Why The Test Is Performed

An ECG is used to measure:

  • Any damage to the heart
  • How fast your heart is beating and whether it is beating normally
  • The effects of drugs or devices used to control the heart
  • The size and position of your heart chambers

An ECG is often the first test done to determine whether a person has heart disease. Your provider may order this test if:

  • You have chest pain or palpitations
  • You are scheduled for surgery
  • You have had heart problems in the past
  • You have a strong history of heart disease in the family

Blood Tests And Beyond

But not all heart attacks show up on the first ECG. So even if it looks normal, you’re still not out of the woods, says Dr. Kosowsky. The next step is an evaluation by a doctor or other clinician, who will ask about your medical history and details about the location, duration, and intensity of your symptoms. You’ll also have a blood test to measure troponin, a protein that rises in response to heart muscle damage. This blood test is very sensitive. But keep in mind that elevated levels don’t always show up right away. That’s why doctors sometimes have people stay for several hours to get a follow-up troponin measurement.

Other possible tests include a chest x-ray to look for alternative causes of chest discomfort, such as pneumonia or heart failure. A doctor also might give you a trial of medication to see whether it relieves your symptoms, and additional ECGs may be performed over time.

Often, if several troponin tests come back normal, the doctor may want to check your risk of a future heart attack with an exercise stress test. This test can reveal how your heart responds to the demands of increased blood flow needed during exercise. During a standard exercise test, you walk on a treadmill at progressively faster speeds, while trained staff monitors your heart’s electrical activity, your heart rate, and your blood pressure.

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A Cardiac Stress Test Can Determine Your Risk Of Heart Disease But Often Requires Follow

What can a cardiac stress test tell me about my heart? Once it was common for a man middle-aged or older to get an annual exercise stress test to make sure his heart was still ticking like a fine watch. But expert guidelines now discourage such “just in case” stress testing.

Is this trend against stress testing healthy for older men? We asked Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiology for the VA Boston Healthcare System, for insight into what an exercise stress test can and cannot tell you about your heart. With caveats, the procedure still has a valuable role to play in diagnosing worrisome symptoms like chest painespecially in older men with risk factors for heart disease. “An exercise stress test is not 100% accurateno medical test is,” Dr. Bhatt says. “But it helps decide what the next step should be.”

How Are Silent Heart Attacks Diagnosed


Many times, silent heart attacks are found during a routine check-up. If your doctor thinks you may have had one, he or she may order imaging tests. These could include an electrocardiogram , which is a special ultrasound, or a CT scan or MRI of your heart.

These tests can show if your heart muscle has been damaged, signaling that youve had a heart attack. If youve gone to the emergency room with silent heart attack symptoms, the doctor may order blood tests.

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What Did It Find

  • 30.6% of patients with chest pain were defined as low risk and tested negative, with a normal ECG and high sensitivity troponin below threshold .
  • These patients, testing negative, were almost certain not to have had a heart attack. The pooled negative predictive value was 99.3% .
  • Only 14 patients had a false negative result and were later confirmed to have had a heart attack. Seven of these were tested within three hours of the start of the pain. The pooled sensitivity was 98.7% and was good across studies, ranging from 87.5% to 100%.
  • The test wasnt good for diagnosing a heart attack and gave a high number of incorrect positive results in people without a heart attack. Pooled specificity was 64% . Specificity was low across studies but highly variable, ranging from 5% to 79%. Overall less than a quarter of people testing positive had a heart attack .
  • The test accurately identified almost all patients who died or had a major cardiac adverse event within 30 days . A total of 126 patients died , none of whom was in the low risk/test negative category.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Heart Attack And A Panic Attack

The best way to tell the difference is to simply visit the doctor and have your heart tested. If your heart is in good health, it’s very unlikely you are suffering from a heart attack, especially if you have signs of anxiety. The good news is that there are plenty of easy tests to rule out any serious heart problems.

Beyond that, there are very minute differences in the symptoms. Examples include:

  • Chest pain from anxiety tends to be more localized and sharp, while heart attacks radiate and are often duller.
  • Panic attacks rarely cause vomiting – a somewhat common symptom of heart attacks, although not in all of those that experience one.
  • Panic attacks tend to be more systematic. They generally peak about 10 minutes in and then there is a slow and steady decline. Heart attacks can follow this same pattern, but it’s less common.

Otherwise, the best thing to do is get your heart checked and learn whether or not you’re suffering from any heart problems. If not, then you’re experiencing anxiety attacks.

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What Can An Ekg Detect

An EKG is an electrocardiogram , which is a scan that is designed to detect and record the electrical activity of your heart. This is accomplished via electrodes placed strategically at various spots on your limbs and chest.

The primary purpose of the EKG is to measure the rate at which your heart is beating. It also determines whether the heart muscle is performing at a healthy rhythm, and whether or not the beats are irregular or steady. Essentially, the electrical pulses transported through the heart are measured for their strength and timing.

The test is a simple procedure that is painless, and it is often included as part of a patients regular checkup. A patient might also have an EKG prior to surgery.

Abnormalities In The Shape Of The Heart

Normal EKG vs. Heart Attack

An EKG gives doctors an idea of how hard the heart is working in each specific area. An abnormal EKG result can be a sign that one region or section of the heart is larger or thicker than the others.

A thickened heart could mean that the heart is working too hard to pump blood. This may be due to a congenital or acquired heart condition.

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Ambulatory Electrocardiography And Holter Monitoring

What the Test DoesRecords the electrical activity of the heart during daily activities.

Reason for Test

  • Documents and describes abnormal electrical activity in the heart during daily activities to help doctors determine the condition of the heart.
  • Helps determine the best possible treatments.

Ecg : When You Need It And When You Dont

An ECG records the electrical activity of your heart at rest. It provides information about your heart rate and rhythm, and shows if there is enlargement of the heart due to high blood pressure or evidence of a previous heart attack . However, it does not show whether you have asymptomatic blockages in your heart arteries or predict your risk of a future heart attack. The resting ECG is different from a stress or exercise ECG or cardiac imaging test. You may need an ECG test if you have risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, or symptoms such as palpitations or chest pain. Or you may need it if you already have heart disease. But in other cases, you may think twice about having this test. Heres why:

Usually, you do not need an ECG if you dont have risk factors for heart disease or symptoms that suggest possible heart disease.

The test is not useful in routine checkups for people who do not have risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or symptoms of heart disease, like chest pain. Yet, many people with no risk factors or symptoms have an ECG as part of their routine checkups. There are better ways to prevent heart disease than routine ECGs. The ECG will not harm you. However, it can sometimes show mild nonspecific abnormalities that are not due to underlying heart disease, but cause worry and lead to follow-up tests and treatments that you do not need.

When are ECGs needed?

How should you protect your heart?

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Why These Heart Attacks Are Deadly

Some heart attacks result from an artery being blocked by 80 to 90 percent.

Muhlestein says a STEMI heart attack happens when one of the hearts major arteries is completely blocked.

There is no blood flow going to the part of the heart fed by that artery. Without oxygen, the blocked part of the heart will begin to die, he said.

The symptoms of a STEMI heart attack can include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea.

According to the , almost half of heart attack deaths happen outside of a hospital.

This means that many people having a heart attack dont recognize the early warning signs.

If somebody gets chest pain and they havent ever had chest pain before, they might think its just a bug or its gas, and they wont go to the emergency room, said Muhlestein in a press release.

Every minute lost before treatment means the death of more heart cells.

Once heart tissue is dead, it doesnt grow back, warned Muhlestein.

There is a direct relationship between the amount of time an artery is blocked and the odds of survival.

Cardiologists say time is muscle to express the importance of getting treatment as soon as possible.

Muhlestein said with this app, If you suspect someone is having a heart attack it could simply be a matter of taking out your smartphone and following the on-screen instructions to find out.

Dont Ignore Persistent Discomfort

Diagnosing a Heart Attack

People who experience a heart attack without recognizing it and who survive are very fortunate, Dr. Rimmerman says. If you experience sustained discomfort for a period of a few minutes, especially if the symptoms are new and have no clear explanation, do not ignore these concerns.

Often, people sense that something is wrong but do not want to believe it is a heart attack, he adds, ignoring symptoms or attributing them to something else.

In one case, for example, a patient thought he had food poisoning only to find out a few days later that he had, in fact, had a heart attack.

If you develop new-onset symptoms resembling heartburn, or any of the symptoms above, be sure to seek care.

If it turns out to be heartburn, at least you have excluded something less threatening, says Dr. Rimmerman. Dont let uncertainty lead to regret later on for you and your family.

The bottom line? Dont be your own physician, he warns: If you experience a distinct change in how you feel, no matter how subtle, you should seek medical attention.

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Why Do Anxiety Attacks Cause Heart Attack

Panic attacks tend to cause a chain reaction in the body that triggers many of these physical symptoms. Some of these reactions include:

  • Hyperventilation Poor breathing can cause chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. It can also lead to lightheadedness and muscle weakness.
  • Adrenaline The anxiety from a panic attack leads to an adrenaline rush, causing rapid heartbeat. Like hyperventilation, it can cause tingling in the extremities and other heart attack-like symptoms.
  • Hyper-sensitivity Another issues is known as hypersensitivity. It’s when the person experiences a lesser symptom more than someone without hypersensitivity would experience. For example, a small amount of chest pain might physically feel more severe, when any other person would shrug it off.

In addition, physical stress can cause a host of problems, like memory loss, indigestion, and more, and these can contribute to the heart attack experience in their own way.

Blood Test And Ecg May Safely Rule Out Heart Attack

A high sensitivity troponin test accurately ruled out a heart attack amongst a third of patients presenting to the emergency department with chest pain. A patient with no detectable troponin and normal electrocardiogram was almost certain not to have had a heart attack.

Many people come to hospital with chest pain, but more than 75% of them have not had a heart attack. The two tests accurately ruled out heart attack in 30% of all chest pain presentations, but more than a third of people who didnt have a heart attack also tested positive. Only around a quarter of people with raised troponin have had a heart attack. The tests were less reliable in people who had chest pain for less than three hours.

The findings support existing NICE guidelines to use high sensitivity troponin testing in people with a suspected heart attack but without the classic features on an electrocardiogram. The test should not be used indiscriminately for all chest pain presentations.

Caution is needed due to the variability in individual study results, patient populations and testing protocols.

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What An Ekg Test Can Tell Your Doctor About Your Heart

Home » Uncategorized » What an EKG Test Can Tell Your Doctor About Your Heart

As the most commonly performed heart test, an electrocardiogram measures and records the electrical activity of your heart. Also known as an ECG or EKG, this key diagnostic tool provides invaluable and insightful information about the rhythm and function of your heart.

Simply put, an EKG is a heart tracing that offers a reliable snapshot of your cardiovascular health. Here at ECCA in Manchester and Hartford, Connecticut, we conduct EKGs virtually every day. Heres what this quick, noninvasive test reveals about your heart.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

I Had A Heart Attack? ECG Results and Staying Positive
  • I feel discomfort in my chest. Could I be having a silent heart attack?
  • How much risk do I have for having a silent heart attack?
  • How serious was my heart attack?
  • What happens now?
  • Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?
  • What is my risk of having another heart attack? Will it be more harmful than the first one?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to prevent another heart attack?

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How Silent Heart Attacks Are Discovered

Some patients whose heart attacks go unrecognized learn about them weeks or months later when they visit the doctor, often for a yearly physical.

We can tell the size of the heart attack by how much heart muscle has been damaged, often on an electrocardiogram , or even more precisely on a cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiogram, says Dr. Rimmerman.

Other patients visit their doctors soon after a silent heart attack because they experience persistent symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath.

Sometimes these symptoms are caused by a leaky mitral valve, caused by scarring of the heart muscle and associated valve dysfunction after a heart attack. Serious complications can follow, including decompensated heart failure, heart rhythm disorders and loss of consciousness.

Note: Apple Watch Never Checks For Heart Attacks

How did such this idea take root in the consciousness of so many Americans?

Perhaps this article in 9-5 Mac had something to do with it

Scott Killian never imagined his Apple Watch might save his life, but thats exactly what happened a few weeks ago when he had a heart attack in the middle of the night. Killian recently shared his personal experience with 9to5Mac, and the details of his story are absolutely amazing.

In clear cut cases the Apple Watch could make the difference between life and death, says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. Because you wear the Apple Watch at all times, it can detect an early sign of a stroke or a heart attack, and that early indication is critical, he says.

And the Healthline article on the new Apple Watch also incorrectly implies it can diagnose MI:

The device, which was unveiled last week, has an electrocardiogram app that can detect often overlooked heart abnormalities that could lead to a heart attack.

And if you are felled by a heart problem, the fall detector built into the Apple Watch Series 4 could alert medical professionals that you need help

Fox News and Healthline should modify their published articles to correct the misinformation they have previously provided.

Readers, please spread the word far and wide to friends and family-Apple Watch cannot detect heart attacks!

Skeptically Yours,

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