About Electrocardiograms

Electrocardiograms (EKGs) are used to ensure the proper electrical functions of your heart. An EKG deciphers the heart’s electrical activity into a series of dips and spikes—also know as waveforms.

Besides checking for the regularity of the heart’s electrical activity, EKGs can be used to find signs of heart disease, explain chest pains and check how well medicines are working.

Before Your Electrocardiogram

  • Tell your doctor about any and all medicines you are currently taking.
  • If you currently take heart medicines, your doctor will tell you how to take your medicines before you have an EKG.
  • Don’t wear jewelry.
  • For men, this test is usually performed bare chested. For women, we usually ask you to wear a bra, T-shirt or gown.

During Your Electrocardiogram

  • You will be asked to lie on a bed or table and small electrodes will be hooked up to your arms, legs and chest. These areas will be shaved and a conductive paste will be applied to each of the electrodes.
  • During the test, you will be asked to lie still and breathe normally. At some point, you may be asked to hold your breath.
  • The electrodes placed on your arms, legs and chest will be hooked to an EKG machine that monitors your heart activity and translates it into waveforms. After the EKG, the electrode paste is wiped off.
  • Your test will be read and your doctor will discuss your results and options with you.

After Your Electrocardiogram

A doctor will review the results of your EKG with you. He or she will discuss any abnormalities in the electrical activity of your heart or heart damage. These results will help your doctor determine any treatment or further tests that may be needed.

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