An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is an easy and painless way to obtain information about the condition of your heart. It can alert your doctor if you had a heart attack, heart failure, or heart damage.
Doctors can evaluate heart health using advanced imaging tests such as EKG, for quick diagnosis and prompt treatment, saving many lives.
Introduction to EKG
An electrocardiogram, popularly known as an EKG or ECG, is a simple diagnostic test that is used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
Special sensors are attached to your skin that can help detect the electrical signals produced by your heart each time it beats. These signals are recorded by a machine and are evaluated by your doctor to see if they are abnormal.
You can get an EKG while lying down and resting or while you are exercising as part of stress.
Application of EKG in healthcare
Doctors use EKG to:
- Assess your heart rhythm
- Diagnose the blood flow to your heart muscle
- Detect a heart attack
- Diagnose heart damage or heart failure
- Diagnose any abnormality within your heart, such as an abnormal or enlarged heart chamber
- Ensure you are fit for an upcoming surgery
- Check the heart condition after taking medications for heart disease
Symptoms that require an EKG
You may be advised an EKG if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- A fast heartbeat
- A flutter or skip in your heartbeat
Preparing for an EKG
You must come prepared before an EKG by:
- Having a light meal
- Wearing loose and comfortable clothes
- Avoiding any metal accessories or jewelry
- Avoiding any greasy creams or lotions
- Avoiding full-length hosiery
Expectations during EKG
On the day of your EKG, your EKG technician or doctor will attach 12 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs.
You will lie flat and relax while the EKG machine records the electrical activity and translates the information into waves viewed on a monitor or printed on graph paper. You will not feel any electricity being passed through your body.
If you are doing a stress test, you will be walking on a treadmill during the test.
An EKG may show if you have:
- An irregular heart rhythm (too fast or too slow)
- Heart attack (past and present)
- Thickening of heart walls
- A problem getting enough blood to the heart
- Heart failure
An EKG is a very quick and painless test to check your heart rhythm and evaluate your heart condition. The information gathered from your EKG results will help your doctor decide what treatment would be best for you.