How Far Can An EKG Detect A Heart Attack?

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How Far Can An EKG Detect A Heart Attack - MY CONCIERGE MD

Heart disease – the cardinal cause of concern, anxiety, and death for many in the United States. You will be amazed to know that every 37 seconds, one American dies due to cardiovascular disease or heart attack. Chest discomfort, breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, and pain extending to the shoulder, arm, or neck- are symptoms common to most Americans. However, there lurk silent heart attacks that do not show any signs or symptoms. An electrocardiogram, aka ECG or EKG, is the test to record your heart’s electrical activity or signals. If your EKG records abnormal patterns of action, it may signal cardiovascular disease.

However, can an EKG detect a heart attack? Let’s find out in this article.

What Is EKG?

The electrocardiogram or EKG is a test to record the electrical impulses in your heart. This critical tool also assesses rhythm disturbance and inconsistent blood flow in your heart if you have any.

It’s a painless test and takes only ten minutes to finish. You can do the test in a doctor’s office, a clinic, or a hospital room. A Technician places 12 electrodes at certain spots in your body – the chest, arm, and legs. The electrodes connect to an EKG machine that measures and prints out the electrical activity of your heart. The doctors usually request you an EKG if you have any signs and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases. A patient with no symptoms but with a family history of heart disease may need an EKG too. Doctors usually run an EKG on those patients as a screening test. However, the American Heart Association doesn’t recommend EKG to adults with low risk and no symptoms.

Why Do You Need An EKG?

Can an EKG detect a heart attack? Not 100% correctly. However, it is the quickest way to monitor any heart-related problems.

The doctor may suggest you take an EKG if you have the following signs and symptoms.

  • Chest discomfort
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Heart pulsations
  • Accelerated pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and exhaustion

Your doctor usually requests you an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the following:

  • To look for the cause of chest pain
  • To evaluate heart-related problems, such as severe tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting.
  • To identify irregular heartbeats.
  • To monitor the overall heart health before a surgery
  • After treatment for conditions such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI), endocarditis (inflammation or infection of one or more of the heart valves), to check your heart functions
  • To examine the operation of an implanted pacemaker
  • To monitor the work of certain heart medicines
  • Whether you have had a previous heart attack

Can An EKG Detect A Heart Attack?

You may ask how accurate is ECG for heart attack? The answer is not 100% correct. The ECG or EKG, according to many doctors, is not entirely accurate in detecting a heart attack. Often the assessment of heart activity comes regularly, even when you have had a heart attack. An EKG is the easiest and painless tool that doctors use to find evidence of heart attacks. However, being alone, an EKG is not enough and accurate enough to detect a heart attack. A study shows that EKG fails to detect two out of three heart attacks. Even if it could be identified, that is not until it is too late. EKG may not alone detect heart attack; with other tests, the doctor can accurately assess your heart functions and detect heart attacks.

Will An EKG Show A Past Heart Attack?

EKG and a past heart attack: how far back can an EKG detect a heart attack? An EKG can reveal if you had a heart attack months or years ago. Heart attacks cause significant symptoms that need immediate medical attention. However, in 45% of cases, patients don’t detect any abnormality with their hearts. These are “silent” heart attacks that don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. You may wonder how an EKG shows a previous heart attack? Plausible by recording the inconsistent flow of blood.

Will An EKG Show A Past Heart Attack - MY CONCIERGE MDA heart attack affects the consistent flow of blood in your heart. As a result, your heart tissue begins to lose oxygen and gradually dies. After months or years, this dead tissue will not conduct well with electricity while doing an EKG. So, your health provider will measure and print an abnormal electrical pattern. An expert health provider can assume that there is damage in your heart from a lack of oxygen. That means you may have a dangerous blockage in your coronary arteries. However, an abnormal EKG can be the reason for Ischemia or lack of blood flow. So, the doctors run multiple tests to determine the real reason. Combining with other diagnostic methods like blood tests and imaging, MRI, VT Scan, and Ultrasound, an EKG can easily detect a previous heart attack.

Can An Ekg Forecast Future Heart Attack?

Can an EKG detect a heart attack? Simply put, not that accurate. However, An EKG can forecast a future heart attack by revealing abnormalities in your heart’s electrical pattern. Researchers found that patients will have an abnormal EKG if they have atherosclerotic disease or multiple risk factors for heart attack. If ECG is normal, can you still have heart problems? The answer is yes. EKG or ECG alone is not a perfect predictor of a future heart attack of a low-risk person. So it is possible to get a heart attack even after getting a normal EKG. The reason is, it can not show asymptomatic blockage in your arteries. ELG works best when you combine it with blood tests or imaging tests. At MyConciergeMD, the team of doctors and technicians are happy to assist you with their expertise in detecting a heart attack.

Other Tests To Detect A Heart Attack With An EKG

The doctors run several tests with an EKG to determine the actual heart condition of a patient.

Holter Monitor

Your doctor may request a Holter monitor if they don’t get enough information from a traditional EKG. Usually, this test measures the electrical activity of your heart over 24 hours or longer.

Blood Test

A simple blood test can shout out loud that you have had a heart attack. Troponin is a substance generally used as a marker of a heart attack. During a heart attack, the troponin levels rise and remain elevated in the blood for up to 2 weeks.

Coronary CT angiogram

Arteries bring blood to your heart. A coronary CT angiogram uses X-rays and a special dye to get an image of the arteries. The doctor injects the dye into your bloodstream to observe its flows through the arteries to detect a blockage.

Cardiac catheterization

The doctor examines your heart by injecting a contrast dye during cardiac catheterization. At first, he will insert a long tube, the catheter, through a puncture in your skin to enter into an artery leading to your heart. Then the contrast dye is inserted to get an image of your heart.


During an echocardiogram, the doctor uses ultrasound waves to show a live image of your heart. The test usually monitors how your heart is pumping blood.


The doctors use MRI to monitor a lack of blood flow and your damaged heart. MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create a three-dimensional image of your heart during the test. Dr. Nazarian and his team at My Concierge MD specializes in accomplishing these tests with effect and effectiveness.

What Exactly Can An Ekg Tell You About Your Heart’s Health?

Can an EKG detect heart failure or heart attacks? Not entirely. It’s not an accurate way of diagnosing heart attacks. However, an EKG can tell the following three about your heart.

Abnormal Heart Rhythm

A healthy heart pumps steadily. However, it beats abnormally if the electrical signals can not be sent from one part of your heart to another. This is an Arrhythmia. An EKG quickly picks up an arrhythmia as it monitors the electrical activity of your heart.

Oxygen Level

Oxygen is essential for your hard-working heart to stay strong. However, your cardiac tissue doesn’t get enough oxygen and dies due to blockage in the coronary. This is Ischemia. An EKG helps assess how much oxygen your heart is getting to prevent catastrophic complications, even death.

Enlarged Heart

Can an EKG detect an enlarged heart? It often can.

A healthy heart is like a fist. However, you may have an abnormally enlarged heart due to untreated high blood pressure, viral infections of the cardiac muscle, advanced age, and heart failure. This is Cardiomegaly. An EKG often showing abnormally large waveforms indicates a severe underlying issue like cardiomegaly.

Final Words

Can an EKG detect a heart attack? Not exactly. However, your health provider can get an accurate picture of your heart health with few other tests. Dr. David Nazarian and his specialized team at My Concierge MD are enthusiastic about giving you the best solution for your heart disease. Schedule a consultation today – one step to have a healthy life with a healthy heart.

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