What is an Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram — abbreviated as EKG or ECG — is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on ECG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers.
Why is an EKG done?
An ECG provides the doctor with three types of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the ECG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked Thirdly, the ECG may show if the person has had a heart attack or if the heart is not receiving enough blood.
What can I expect during the test?
EKG electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest while the patient lies flat on the exam table. The electrodes are attached to leads and are place on each extremity and to six pre-defined positions on the front of the chest. In some instances, men may require the shaving of a small amount of chest hair to obtain optimal contact between the leads and the skin.
An ECG takes only a few minutes and you will be given the results at the time of the test.