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Irregular EKG - could this be false?
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Irregular EKG - could this be false?

I had an EKG today in preparation for having shoulder surgery.  The EKG was abnormal, much to my surprise.  I exercise daily, eat right, keep my weight down, don't smoke, drink only socially.  I have never had any heart problems and I don't have any current symptoms of any problems.  Is it possible this is false?  I have to go for a nuclear stress test now.  I was nervous during the doctor visit.  My blood pressure was a little elevated at the beginning of the doctor appointment, and at the end of the appointment, they re-took my blood pressure and it had come down 25 points.  So, could it be that my nervousness also affected my EKG?  Also, I've been reading on the Internet that EKG's are often false positives and that people then go for further testing to find out everything is fine.  Of course, now I am worried about having an abnormal EKG and hope that the readers can share some advice and personal stories about abnormal readings on EKG's being false positives.
Thank you!
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612551_tn?1247839157
I am not aware of any cases of "false EKG" readings.  I think they read what is going on.  The interpretation can be in error, I suppose and your mental state can cause abnormal, for you, readings, even skipped beats.

A stress test should help determine how well your heart is pumping, getting proper oxygen levels.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Jerry:  If you search the internet for "abnormal EKG" causes you will find that false positives are common.  Here is an excerpt from one website:

"Like many medical tests, EKGs may have false positives or false negatives. This means that the EKG may show an abnormality, called a "false" positive, that turns out to be unimportant."
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177337_tn?1310063499
What was abnormal?  EKG's say abnormal even if it is just pvc's I think.  Have them clarify what was abnormal.  I wouldn't worry too much because I  have also heard that there are a number of false positives and negatives.
Frenchie
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363281_tn?1353103243
I had an "abnormal" EKG a few years ago. I went to the ER for horrific back spasms, they were getting ready to send me home, well, I had not had an EKG for awhile, so, I asked for one. Wow, I shouldn't have. It came back "abnormal" saying due to digitalis and I do not even take the stuff. So, the techs all came in, were hooking me up to oxygen "just in case" and doing all the heart attack protocols. Talks about scared. I just sat on my gurney and could not believe what was happening. They rolled me to a room in CCU and monitored me all night, did troponin tests and other EKG's, all came back glowingly. So, finally, about 14 hours later, I was sent home with a diagnosis of upper back pain and costochondritits and a very very low heart attack risk. But, it scared me so badly, that to this day, almost 2 years ago, I freak if I think I am having any kind of trouble.

My one doc says the EKG was abnormal due to my back spasms and being so nervous and to not worry, I have been told that by others too, so, I have actually calmed down a lot, especially after seeing my echo was so good.

So, yes, they CAN be false, they are only computers and if not calibrated right, can sometimes tell fibs.
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Avatar_n_tn
I also found this on the Internet about false positives on EKG's:

“We estimate that if 20 percent of EKGs are false, the follow-up tests will cost about $683 million, and that doesn’t account for the stress that a patient feels, the time off from work they have to take, and the possible complications that result from the follow-up test.”

I am now in this group.  Now, I have another test to deal with, and the stress related to that.  Of course, I want to make sure that all is well.  To add to my frustration, I now have to delay my shoulder surgery, which is why I had the EKG to begin with.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow, you know the stress involved with hearing your EKG is abnormal!  To add to my frustration, I now have to delay my shoulder surgery, which is why I had the EKG to begin with.  They are sending me for a stress test.  I found the following on another website regarding false positives for EKGs:

“We estimate that if 20 percent of EKGs are false, the follow-up tests will cost about $683 million, and that doesn’t account for the stress that a patient feels, the time off from work they have to take, and the possible complications that result from the follow-up test.”
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363281_tn?1353103243
Yes, hearing about an abnormal EKG is horrible, and to be admitted and have all the heart attack protocol, mercy. But, thankful, it was a false reading, but still, I am still shook up over it. It said "ST abnormality, possibly due to digitalis", well, I do not take the stuff, mercy.

There is a section in the heart forum where doctors answer questions, and one doc said that EKG could absolutely be false, that they were only machines based on alogarhytmn, and if not calibrated right or set up right, could darn well cause false readings. I read that after my false one and it made me feel better, especially when all my other readings were OK and my Echo I had just a few months ago was fine.

I can relate to your anxiety, gosh, why do things like this happen?
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Avatar_f_tn
what exercise can i do to get a better ekg reading
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1124887_tn?1313758491
The automatic EKG interpretation is almost always "wrong" and useless. A problem is, of course, that general practitioners usually don't know how to interpret an EKG.

An EKG is considered "normal" "borderline" or "abnormal".

Borderline criteria:
Sinus tachycardia
Sinus bradycardia
PACs or PVCs
Short PQ time or borderline QT time
High or wide P waves or QRS complexes
Unusual axis
Inverted T waves

Abnormal criteria:
Any sustained arrhythmia
Tri/Bigeminy/Multiple PVCs/PACs
ST changes
Q waves
Long / short QT time
WPW pattern
(and several other more uncommon problems)

I would say the most common reason for an abnormal EKG is unspecific ST changes due to anxiety (anxiety and hyperventilation creates those changes). The machine interprets this as angina or old MI's, and that's not helping us..
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Avatar_f_tn
where are your facts that's say's anxiety can mimic serious heart problem on an ECG are you kiding me. Its more likly to be caused my movement and or bad connection or inverted lead's than anxiety.

you cant help your self your going to the reason why some one die's from a heart problem if you keep convincing people that everything is anxiety stop doing it.
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1124887_tn?1313758491
I can link the source, though it's written in Norwegian, a publication from the Norwegian Journal of Medicine, concerning stress EKG testing and how the doctor should interpret ST changes during rest.

Do you want me to link it?
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Avatar_f_tn
It was the ST changes that concerned me at all. It was the mention of angina that bother me. The reason why the machine do this is because it better to safe the sorry and nothing ever replaces the Dr input of the ECG.

You telling people that machines interpert ST changes as angina and anxiety when anxiety could be the cause is dangerous. WE ARE NOT DR'S.

People will read that out context and think there fine when they may not be. You cant take something like that out of context. You never even pointed anyone to that research to read for them self to make an informed decision. NOTHING replaces the Dr's machines can only do what their programes to do and if they programed the machine to read all all ST change as angina then it would malpractice.

I'm sure the research had figure's and static's that you did not mention and if it did not then it's not worth a bar of soap because GOOD Dr's don't just read anything and beleif in it like it is law.
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Avatar_m_tn
Just had a cath today due to  4 EKG reading's (on 3 machines and different Drs,) of antierior wall MI . Cath was great!. no blockage. I have EF of 60%. Someone please expain?!! Drs. say??? lead placement???machine errror could have been the read of AMI on all 4 test???
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Avatar_m_tn
this info has been great like music to my ears i resently had a miss carrige   on feb20th and on the 27 i whent to the doc they did a physical  and a  ekg  it turn out to be abnormal  now i have to go to cardiologis  and well im worry  but i been under so much stress and well i also have asthma  but now i dont think ill worry that much
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Avatar_m_tn
Am going through something right now where last year I had an "abnormal"
EKG at my general practioner's office. I had been feeling these kind of
fluttering type sensations in my upper chest, and just not sure what it was
but wanted to make sure it wasn't my heart.  He said he would give me an
authorization for a cardiologist, but it might take 2 weeks.  I said well what
happens if I feel those fluttering sensations again. He told me to go to the
emergency room. Well, I felt those sensations driving home, and so I went
to the ER. They gave me their EKG which came out "normal". But they didn't
want me to leave without being thorough, so they gave me a chest x-ray. Didn't
see anything wrong there, but they wanted to leave me for observation over-
night, just in case. So, while I was there, they gave me a heart ultrasound and
also a heart stress test, just to make sure I was ok. I passed with flying colors.
Over a year has gone by and I had another EKG in my GP's office just to get
a "normal" reading.  Of course, the reading was "abnormal". He told me it's
the machine. They're not as good as the ER's machines.  But now I feel compelled
to follow-up with a cardiologist, just in case. At least I don't feel those fluttering
sensations. They stopped after I had those ultrasounds, etc. done. I think something
has to be done with these EKG's in the GP's offices. They just don't seem to be
accurate enough to be used. I mean, they truly cause lots of distress for many
people.  Why can't they be updated with the ER EKG machines?
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