Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that checks how your heart is functioning by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. With each heart beat, an electrical impulse (or wave) travels through your heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. By measuring how long the electrical wave takes to pass through your heart, your cardiologist can determine if the electrical activity is normal, fast or irregular. By measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through your heart, your cardiologist may be able to determine if your heart is enlarged or overworked.
An ECG is used to:
What to expect
You do not have to restrict what you eat or drink before your ECG, although it is recommended that you not smoke just before the test. You will be asked to remove your jewelry and wear a hospital gown.
An ECG is a "non-invasive" procedure, which means that nothing is injected into the body. It is painless. A number of electrodes (usually a total of 12 to 15) are attached to various locations on your body including your arm, leg and chest. The electrodes are attached by small suction cups or adhesive patches. Sensors in the pads detect the electrical activity of your heart. Sometimes the test is performed while you sit or lie still. Results are recorded on graph paper and interpreted (or read) by your doctor or a technologist. The test usually takes 5 to 10 minutes.
If you require more detailed information, check with the facility where you are having your exam.