Stress testing is often advised to patients suspected with abnormal heart rhythms, those who are evaluated for their cardiac treatment program, and those who will undergo a certain exercise program. It is also commonly prescribed to patients who are suspected to have coronary artery disease (CAD). For patients with CAD, the blood supply which may be adequate at rest may be inadequate when there is an increased in cardiac demand such as when exercising.
Although the accuracy of stress testing for the diagnosis of CAD depends on several factors, it is still one of the most commonly advised tests for patients suspected with the heart disease. Compared to cardiac catheterization, stress testing is less invasive and less expensive in detecting abnormalities in the blood flow.
There are two ways on how stress testing is done. One is through the use of drugs and the other is through exercise.
Pharmacologic stress testing is usually done to patients who have certain conditions that make them unable to do exercise stress testing. These include obesity, musculoskeletal disorders, and peripheral artery disease. In this kind of stress testing, drugs like adenosine, dipyridamole, and dobutamine are used to cause coronary vasodilation.
Exercise stress test is more preferred than pharmacologic stress test as its way of increasing cardiac demand is similar to stressors that induce ischemia. During an exercise stress test, a patient stands and walks on a treadmill while hooked up to a heart monitor. Following the Bruce protocol or other similar exercise routine, the patient’s target heart rate is reached or until the symptoms occur.
Aside from a treadmill machine, an electrocardiogram (EKG) is needed for stress test to be conducted. Hence, to accurately determine the result of the test, it’s important to get good quality and the right kind of EKG machine.
An EKG machine is a helpful diagnostic tool for determining several conditions of the heart including abnormal heart rhythms and chamber enlargements. While its main function has not changed over the years, advancement in science and technology has made it possible to have EKG machines in various sizes, types, and features.
The EKG machine is a complex tool. Prospective buyers of this equipment should therefore be aware of the different features it has and the available options they have.
The machine is made up of four main parts: the electrodes, connecting wires, amplifier, and output.
The EKG machine can have up to 10 electrodes which are attached to the patient’s skin at various areas of the body. They are color-coded for easy identification.
The connecting wires create a one-way communication between the person’s body and the machine. Since they connect the electrodes to the amplifier, proper connection should be ensured to have accurate EKG reading.
The amplifier of the EKG machine is the one that reads the signals from the electrodes and turn them into visual information.
The EKG’s output device is where the visual information from the amplifier is reflected. It can be on a graph paper strip, computer monitor, or magnetic tape.
Aside from knowing the basic parts of an EKG machine, there are other things you should know and factors to consider when buying an EKG machine for doing stress test. These include the following:
Not all EKG machines are created the same. Some machines allow you to see information directly on the screen and has a system that includes both resting 12-lead ECG and stress tests. There are also machines that automatically detects arrythmias.
The accuracy of the machine should be among your prime considerations when buying one. Make sure that the EKG machine provides accurate data acquired from the patient. You can opt for an EKG machine that makes use of an internationally-acclaimed algorithm with a proven track record for reliability and accuracy in clinical settings.
Some EKG machines have customizable features that you can adjust to suit your needs. There are EKG machines that come with several options for audio and visual alarms and can be adjusted to suit your patient’s threshold levels. There are also those that allow you to customize your reports so you can design your report in any way that you prefer.
Knowing the customization features that you wanted in an EKG machine will make it easier for you to find the right one for you.
EKG machines are just like other medical equipment. They’re not a one-size-fits-all product as each one offers a different set of features and caters to different needs.
The following tips can help you find the EKG machine that suits your needs: