What is an ECG Recorder?
An ECG Recorder is a wearable medical device that registers your heart rhythm during a determined period of time (days or weeks). Such a registration we call an electrocardiogram (ECG). Your doctor has requested this medical examination, because it provides important information about the functioning of your heart.
What are heart rhythm disorders?
A heart rhythm disorders is a recurring deviation of the normal heart rhythm. With each heartbeat an electrical pulse causes the heart to contract. In a normal heart rhythm this contraction occurs at a regular pace. When something is wrong with the production or the conduction of the electrical pulse, the heart rhythm changes. The heart starts to beat to fast or to slow. Or the pace becomes irregular.
Untreated arrhythmias in the long run can impair the pump function of the heart or lead to heart failure. Mostly these arrhythmias are quite innocent or easy to treat. Which treatment the doctor will prescribe, is dependent on factors like the age of the patient, the origin and the severity of the disorder.
How does the heart work?
The heart is a large muscle consisting of four hollow spaces. The upper two cavities are called the atria, the bottom two the chambers. Because of the regular contraction of atria and chambers the blood is pumped trough the body, providing the muscles and organs with oxygen and nutrition.
The heart consists of heart muscle cells. When these cells are stimulated electrically, the heart contracts. The electrical stimulus starts in the sinus node (that regulates the heart rhythm), and spreads through a conduction system first to the atria and second to the chambers, causing them to contract in succession.
What do you see on an ECG?
Heart muscle cells are electrically charged. As a result the heart as a whole generates an electrical field. The ECG is a graphical depiction of the changes in the heart electrical field during the contraction and relaxation of the heart. As the electrical impulse spreads through the heart by way of a conduction system, the strength and the direction of the heart electrical field are constantly changing.
In each part of the heart a different kind of signal is generated. These signals together form the ECG signal. By looking at the shape of the ECG, you are not only able to see deviations in the heart rhythm, but you can also determine where in the heart the problems originate.
The application and usage of the ECG Recorder
Your doctor or assistant will apply the skin electrodes to your chest. These are connected by cables to the ECG Recorder. While you are wearing the ECG Recorder, you will keep a patient journal in which you list your activities and eventual symptoms.
The recorder is not waterproof. During the registration you can not take a shower or a bath, or go swimming. Washing with a washing glove is allowed. When you need to wear the recorder for a longer period of time, we will provide you with a couple of sets of skin electrodes and an instruction how to apply them again after bathing.
In the journal you receive with the ECG Recorder, you will note your activities, together with the date and time that you undertook them. For example, you list walking, cycling and doing sports, but also sleeping, watching tv and eating. You will also note your symptoms, like heart palpitations, thightness, vertigo and pain in the chest.
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A bit insecure?
Most people are tense when they have to participate in a heart rhythm registration. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, general practitioner or assistant when you have questions. Especially when you think you did not understand of forgot an instruction. For the reliability of the investigation it is very important that you understand everything and carefully follow the instructions. Some people like to bring a family member or friend to the application of the ECG Recorder, so this person is able to help you with re-application.