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What Causes Irregular EKGS?

An EKG is a non-invasive test done in hospitals and doctor’s offices to read the electrical activity of the heart. Anytime a person may have a cardiac problem, this test is done to help identify the problem so they can receive treatment.

When irregularities show up, it could mean several things. It’s likely the doctor will want to run another test to duplicate the readings. When an irregular EKG happens, the doctor will carefully review the procedure and make sure everything was tracking correctly before looking at medical issues, especially if the readings don’t coincide with any known medical causes.

Poor Connections

A proper EKG reading depends on a series of connections: the connection between the electrode and the patient’s skin; the connection between the electrode and the lead wire; and finally the connection between the lead wire and the EKG machine.

If any of these connections are interrupted or not strong, then the EKG reading will be off. There are many reasons that would create a poor connection. The electrode gel could be dry and the electrode isn’t getting a good signal.

The wiring between either the electrodes or the machine could have a problem causing weak or irregular sinus rhythms.

Improper placement of one or more of the electrodes is another possible cause of a bad or weak connection. If the electrodes aren't placed properly, especially on the chest area, then it could misinterpret or miss the readings altogether.

The problem could also be from the patient’s skin. Make sure all hair is removed and the area cleaned to remove any lotions that may be on the skin.

Computer Error

We live in a digital world and that’s not always a good thing. Standard EKGs produce the sinus rhythms on chart paper. It’s s physical paper that doctors can look at and have used for decades. Modern machines allow for a digital readout of the heart rhythm, but many times they are not accurate.

The problem is how the computer interprets the electrical impulses. If the interpretation is incorrect, the doctors can make an incorrect diagnosis or prescribe medication that isn’t needed. It’s usually a good idea to have standard interpretation as a backup if it shows any medical anomalies.

Machine Malfunction

Time takes its toll on all machines. EKG machines should be tested and examined regularly to make sure of functionality, but sometimes things break. It could be the corroded connections, internal equipment malfunction or other issues.

If there are erratic readings, waveform irregularities or a fuzzy baseline, then there could be mechanical issues. Take the machine offline and have it examined by a repair technician. Once the machine is repaired, take extra care in verifying all results until you are convinced it’s working correctly.

Patient History

It’s important before doing an EKG test to take an in-depth patient history. If you have access to previous EKG tests, then examine those as well. It’s very possible that EKG abnormalities are caused by benign issues with the patient’s physiology.

If there are previous tests, then they’ll reveal similar findings. If there are not, then follow up testing will prove there are no serious medical abnormalities and that future tests will also reflect similar results.

Medical Problems

Many times, the cause of EKG machine irregularities are medical problems associated with the heart. Arrhythmia, fast heartbeat, medicine interaction and more can cause your tests to be abnormal. Cardiologists and other doctors have seen these signs before and recognize them.

They’ll likely want to repeat the test for verification and do other tests to confirm the diagnosis. This is why EKG machines are used. When a person’s EKG machine is abnormal, then there could be a serious problem. It’s doesn’t matter what caused the abnormality. All that matters is that it’s followed-up on and the cause, whether mechanical or medical, found.

Keep Your EKG Machines in Top Shape

Many of the causes of EKG irregularities are problems with the EKG machines or their accessories. It’s important to keep plenty of chart paper, lead wires and other accessories on hand in case you need to change them out.

It’s also important the machines are on a regular maintenance schedule to keep them working correctly. If you’re looking for EKG machines or EKG accessories, then visit this link.


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