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EKG Test

Do You Need an Electrocardiogram EKG / ECG Test?

  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Unusual heart sounds


EKG Test

What is an EKG test ?

An electrocardiogram (or EKG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on a long strip of paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.

The heart is a pump made up of four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. We each have a natural electrical system within our bodies that causes the heart muscle to contract as well as pump blood through the heart, to the lungs, and then throughout the rest of the body.

An EKG test shows:

  • How fast your heart is beating
  • Whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular
  • The strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of your heart

Why Doctors Order an EKG Test

An EKG (sometimes referred to as an ECG) is done to:

  • Check the heart's electrical activity.
  • Find the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
  • Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
  • Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
  • Check how well medicines are working and whether they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
  • Check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart, such as pacemakers, are working to control a normal heartbeat.
  • Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, or a family history of early heart disease.

How To Prepare for a EKG test

Many medications can change the results of this test. It is imperative that you tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medications you take. If you take heart medication(s), your doctor will tell you how to take your medicines before you have this test done.

You must remove all jewelry from your neck, arms, and wrists. Men are usually bare-chested during the test. Women may often wear a bra, T-shirt, or gown. If you are wearing stockings, you should take them off. You can request a paper gown to cover yourself during the EKG.

How It Is Done

An EKG test is usually done by a Medical Assistant, and the EKG results are interpreted by your doctor, such as: an internist, family medicine doctor, electro-physiologist, cardiologist, anesthesiologist, or surgeon.

First, you will lie on an exam table. Electrodes will be placed on specific areas of your chest, arms and legs (which are cleaned and may be need to be shaved to provide a clean, smooth surface to attach the electrode discs).

A small disposable electrode will be attached at points on your chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes are hooked to a machine that traces your heart activity onto a paper. You will be asked to lie very still and breathe normally during the test. Once the test has begun, you should not speak at all for the duration of the test.

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