CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Your Electrocardiogram (EKG)

What Is an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

The heart operates by receiving electrical impulses which regulate its rhythm. If your doctor suspects an irregularity with your heart's rhythm or beat, he might order an electrocardiogram (EKG). An electrocardiogram is a test that measures that electrical activity. The results are displayed as a wave on either a strip of paper or a video screen.

By examining the wave pattern, your doctor can see the timing and type of the electrical impulses and use it to see the rhythm and heart rate. Underlying problems with the heart can also be noticed with an electrocardiogram. The results from your first EKG will be used by your doctor to compare future electrocardiogram readings to see if any changes took place which might indicate a problem.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

A nurse or technician will clean off the areas of your chest, arms, and legs where the sensory pads will be placed. These will be coated in a gel, which might feel cold to the skin. You will have electrodes attached to your skin, but no electricity will be passed to you. The electrodes only monitor the electrical impulses of your heart.  

If you are having a resting EKG done, you will be told to lie completely still during the procedure which can last one to two full minutes.  Sometimes your doctor might also ask for a stress test which is an electrocardiogram done while you are on a piece of exercise equipment such as a treadmill or stationary bike. A stress test will last longer, depending upon how quickly your heart rate increases with the exercise.

After the Procedure

If the electrocardiogram showed an abnormality, you might be asked to have more tests done to make a specific diagnosis, but if everything appears to be normal, you should be able to return to your daily tasks without interruption.

Is It Safe?

In short, yes. No electricity is sent through the electrodes used by the EKG, and it, therefore is a safe and painless procedure.

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