EKG (Electrocardiogram)

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for issues with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG does the work of translation of the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are known as waves. These waves are read by physicians and other health care providers to determineany heart problems.

An EKG measures the underlying rate and rhythm mechanism of the heart, the heart is placed in the chest, and patterns of abnormal electric activity that may lead to abnormal cardiac rhythm. Along with this, and EKG can show proof of increased thickness of the heart muscle, damage to various parts of the heart, and improper blood flow.

Why It Is Done

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is performed to:

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

How It Is Done

When you are having an electrocardiogram carried out, you will first be asked to lie down. Next, electrodes will be applied to the skin with the use of adhesive patches. The electrodes will be placed on the shoulders, chest, wrists, and ankles. Once the electrodes are placed appropriately, you will be asked to lie still and possibly told to hold your breath for a short period of time. During this time, your heartbeat will be recorded and the results will be drawn up as a graph by the EKG machine. The results are then interpreted:

  • Heart Rate is noted considering how many waves per minute are recorded.
  • Heart Rhythm is noted by seeing the distance between heart rate waves.

The shape of the waves will decide how the hearts electrical system is working and also note the size of the heart, how well all of the portions of the heart are working together with one another, and if any heart damage can be seen.

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