Breast augmentations are the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in the U.S., but a new study may have found a health hazard in this cosmetic staple. According to research presented today at EHRA EUROPACE – CARDIOSTIM 2017, breast implants may get in the way of an electrocardiogram (ECG), and could cause a false heart attack diagnosis.
The study found that breast implants can impede results from an ECG, a popular test used to record heart activity. One of the possible consequences of this could be a false heart attack diagnosis. The team hopes this finding can help doctors make better diagnoses, as it suggests that patients with breast implants may benefit also having blood test diagnosis alongside the ECG, depending on the types of symptoms they are experiencing.
“Our experience shows that breast implants make it difficult to see the heart with echocardiography because ultrasound cannot penetrate through the implant,” said lead author Dr Sok-Sithikun Bun, in a recent statement. “We wanted to find out if implants also disrupt an ECG.”
For the study, the team looked at 28 women with breast implants and 20 women of the same age without breast implants. All of these women were healthy with no known heart problems. However, results showed that some of the ECGs of women with breast implants were classified as abnormal. For example, according to the report, one electrophysiologist classified 38 percent of the ECGs of women with breast implants as abnormal, and a second electrophysiologist classified 57 percent of the ECGs of this group as abnormal. The only difference between the two groups were their breast implants. This led the researchers to conclude that it was this cosmetic surgery that led to the abnormal ECG readings.
“Albeit echocardiography is difficult in women with implants, these measurements indicated that they had normal hearts and no structural heart disease, which suggests that there was no heart problem that could explain the abnormal ECGs,” added Bun.
An ECG is a test that checks the electrical activity of your heart, looking particularly for spikes in the heart’s electrical activity. According to WebMD, this test is used to find the cause of unexplained chest pain or pressure, and to find the cause of some heart disease symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and fainting.
To conduct the test, a doctor will attach several electrodes to the patient’s body. These electrodes are attached to the skin, and together they help to give a reading of your heart’s electrical activity. However, no electricity is passed from the electrodes to the body, and the test is completely safe.
The team hope their results simply raise awareness of how implants have the tendency to interfere with these ECG readings, and that women with breast implants will inform their doctors of them beforehand.
Source: Bun SS, et al. EHRA EUROPACE – CARDIOSTIM 2017