According to new research, women with breast implants have a higher chance of getting a false reading during an electrocardiogram (ECG) test that helps assess a patient’s heart rhythm and electrical activity. At a medical trade show in Vienna this week, a team of cardiologists presented new findings that linked breast implants with abnormal ECG results.
The study included 48 women of the same age; 28 with breast implants and 20 without. When the participant’s ECG results were analyzed by two electrophysiologists, 38 percent of the women with breast implants had ECGs that were classified as abnormal by the first electrophysiologist, while the second electrophysiologists found 57 percent to be abnormal.
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“Our experience shows that breast implants make it difficult to see the heart with echocardiography because ultrasound cannot penetrate through the implant,” said cardiologist and lead author of the study, Dr. Sok-Sithikun Bun. “We wanted to find out if implants also disrupt an ECG.”
According to Mount Pleasant, SC, plastic surgeon Thomas Hahm, MD, patients with implants should be aware of this fact before undergoing an electrocardiogram. “I believe it may be the implant interferes with the electrical conductor of the electrodes over the heart,” he says. “I would advise patients with implants to be aware that their implants my cause a false reading that requires further testing and to talk with their doctor about their concerns.”
Dr. Bun advises women who are thinking of having a breast augmentation in the future to proactively have an electrocardiogram done prior to surgery: “We do not want to frighten patients. But it may be wise to have an ECG before a breast implant operation. The ECG can be kept on file and used for comparison if the patient ever needs another ECG.”
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