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What can an ECG (Electrocardiogram)?

An electrocardiogram can be a useful way to find out whether your high blood pressure has caused any damage to your heart or blood vessels. Because of this, you may be asked to have an ECG when you are first diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Some of the things an ECG reading can detect are:

1. Cholesterol clogging up your heart’s blood supply

2. A heart attack in the past

3. Enlargement of one side of the heart

4. Abnormal heart rhythms

How is an ECG carried out?

An ECG (Electrocardiogram) is a safe and painless test which normally only takes a few minutes.

Leads from an electrocardiograph machine are attached to the skin on your arms, legs and chest using sticky patches. These leads read signals from your heart and send this information to the electrocardiograph. The machine then prints the reading on a paper strip or on a screen.

There are three main types of ECG:

Resting ECG – if your doctor is interests in how your heart is working while you are at rest, you will be asked to lie down and relax while the heartbeat is being recorded.

Exercise ECG – your doctor may be interested in how your heart reacts to activity and you will be asked to walk or run on a treadmill or cycle on an exercise bike while your heartbeat is recorded.

24-hour ECG – sometimes it can be helpful to monitor your heartbeat throughout the day, in which case you will be asked to wear a small electrocardiograph machine. The recordings from the machine are then read by your doctor when you return the machine.

Digital X-Ray

Digital radiography is a form of radiography that uses x-ray–sensitive plates to directly capture data during the patient examination, immediately transferring it to a computer system without the use of an intermediate cassette. ... Instead of X-ray film, digital radiography uses a digital image capture device.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging (also called ultrasound scanning or sonography) is a non-invasive medical examination that uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. This enables doctors to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions.

Some of the major advantages of ultrasound include:

It is a simple and non-invasive procedure

It can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels in real time

side effects are negligible and no radiation is involved

Before your ultrasound

A referral from your doctor and an appointment are required for an ultrasound examination. Depending on the type of examination you may be asked to fast from food and fluids. Some examinations will require you to drink a specific amount of water prior to arriving so that your bladder is full. You will be advised of the appropriate preparation when you make your appointment.

During your ultrasound

During the examination a water based gel will be applied to the skin over the area to be scanned to improve the transmission of sound waves between the body and the ultrasound transducer. To get the best possible images the Radiologist may ask you to hold your breath or move your position so the best images can be obtained.

On occasion, a radiologist may need to speak with you and perform some ultrasound scanning as well, in order to clarify what has been shown in the images and ensure the question asked by your referring doctor is answered accurately.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This common test allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart diseases.

Why do people need an echo test?

Your doctor may use an echo test to look at your heart’s structure and check how well your heart functions. The test helps your doctor find out:

The size and shape of your heart, and the size, thickness and movement of your heart’s walls.

How your heart moves.

The heart’s pumping strength.

If the heart valves are working correctly.

If blood is leaking backwards through your heart valves.

If the heart valves are too narrow.

If there is a tumor or infectious growth around your heart valves.

The test also will help your doctor find out if there are:

Problems with the outer lining of your heart (the pericardium).

Problems with the large blood vessels that enter and leave the heart.

Blood clots in the chambers of your heart.

Abnormal holes between the chambers of the heart.

What are the risks?

An echo can’t harm you.

An echo doesn’t hurt and has no side effects.