Posted September 30, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

An electrocardiogram i.e. ECG or EKG records the electrical signal from the heart to check for different heart conditions. Electrodes are placed on the chest to record the heart's electrical signals, which cause the heart to beat. The signals are shown as waves on an attached computer monitor or printer.

What is ECG?

  • Electrocardiogram also called an EKG or ECG to check for signs of heart disease.

  • It’s a test that records the electrical activity of your ticker through small electrode patches that a technician attaches to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs.

EKGs are quick, safe, and painless. With this test, your doctor will be able to:

  • Check your heart rhythm

  • See if you have poor blood flow to your heart muscle (this is called ischemia)

  • Diagnose a heart attack

  • Check on things that are abnormal, such as thickened heart muscle

  • Detect if there are significant electrolyte abnormalities, such as high potassium or high or low calcium.

How to prepare for an EKG?

To prepare for an EKG:

  • Avoid oily or greasy skin creams and lotions the day of the test. They interfere with the electrode-skin contact.

  • Avoid full-length hosiery, because electrodes need to be placed directly on the legs.

  • Wear a shirt that can be easily removed to place the leads on the chest.

Procedure of ECG

  • A technician will attach 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs.

  • If you’re a guy, you may need to have your chest hair shaved to allow a better connection.

  • During the test you’ll lie flat while a computer creates a picture, on graph paper, of the electrical impulses that move through your heart.

  • This is called a resting EKG, although the same test may be used to check your heart while you exercise.

  • It takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test, but the actual recording takes only a few seconds.

  • Your doctor will keep your EKG patterns on file so that they can compare them to tests you get in the future.

Types of EKG tests

Besides the standard EKG, your doctor may recommend other kinds:

Holter monitor

  • It’s a portable EKG that checks the electrical activity of your heart for 1 to 2 days, 24-hours a day.

  • Your doctor may suggest it if they suspect you have an abnormal heart rhythm, you have palpitations, or don’t have enough blood flow to your heart muscle.

  • Like the standard EKG, it’s painless. The electrodes from the monitor are taped to your skin.

  • Once they’re in place, you can go home and do all of your normal activities except shower.

  • Your doctor will ask you to keep a diary of what you did and any symptoms you notice.

Event monitor

  • Your doctor may suggest this device if you only get symptoms now and then.

  • When you push a button, it will record and store your heart’s electrical activity for a few minutes.

  • You may need to wear it for weeks or sometimes months.

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