Learn more about EKG here.
An electrocardiogram is a painless, noninvasive test used to detect many common types of heart problems, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, heart failure, and other heart disorders. It can be done in the doctor’s office or hospital and typically takes just a few minutes. Results are often available the same day.
Usually 12 to 15 electrodes (sticky patches applied with a gel) are attached to the patient’s arms, legs and chest. The electrodes help detect and conduct the electrical currents of your heart. Any hairy parts of the patient’s body may need to be shaved so the electrodes can properly adhere.
The ECG or EKG test records the electrical activity of your heart. With each beat of your heart, an electrical impulse moves from the upper right chamber of your heart and travels through your heart. As it travels, the electrical impulse makes the heart contract and pump blood.
An EKG translates the heart’s activity into a line chart on paper. Spikes and dips in the lines are called waves. The doctor uses the chart to look for patterns and rhythms within the heartbeats to diagnose heart conditions.
The EKG will show how fast the patient’s heart is beating, whether the heart’s rhythm is steady or irregular, and the strength and timing of the electrical signals as they course through the different parts of the patient’s heart.
Before taking the test, patients should remove all jewelry from their neck, arms, and wrists and remove clothing from the waist up. A technician will provide the patient with a robe for cover up.
Just breathe normally during the test. Make sure you’re comfortable and warm before the test begins. If you’ve just taken any medicine or drank cold water let the technician or doctor know beforehand. They can both alter the results of the test. A standard ECG takes just a few minutes and results are usually available the same day.