ECG DEFINITIONAn electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a method of monitoring the health of your heart. Each heartbeat is triggered by an electrical impulse produced from the special cells located at your heart's upper right chamber. Your doctor uses the ECG to search for patterns among the heart rhythms and heartbeats to diagnose a multitude of heart conditions.
ECG PURPOSEAn ECG is a noninvasive, painless procedure used to diagnose a variety of common heart conditions. Your doctor may recommend ECG use to detect a previous heart attack, a heart attack in emergency situations, blocked or narrowed heart arteries, heart valve problems, heart defects, and arrhythmias.
ECG RISKSAn ECG is safe. Aside from the minor difficulties of bandage removal wherein the electrodes are taken off your person or the even rarer occurrence of swelling and redness on the skin, the ECG is relatively risk-free.
ECG PREPARATION REQUIREDYou don't need to do anything special in preparation for your ECG. However, immediately before the electrocardiogram, you should avoid exercising or drinking cold water. These actions can affect the accuracy of the ECG's end results.
ECG PROCEDUREAfter you've changed into a hospital gown, you'll lie on an examination table or bed. A technician will put 12 to 15 electrodes on your chest, legs, and arms with sticky patches and gel. These will help conduct and detect your heart's electrical currents. You may need to shave hair on some parts of your body in order for the electrodes to stick on them properly.
ECG COMPLICATIONSYou cannot be electrocuted during an ECG. An ECG records electrical activity; it doesn't emit electricity itself. The likeliest complications from an ECG are swelling and redness from bandage removal. However, the stress test (wherein medication that mimics the effects of exercise is taken or actual exercise is done) can cause arrhythmias or, rarely, a heart attack.
ECG SIDE EFFECTSMinor discomfort is what you should expect from an ECG at most thanks to bandage removal and the unlikely event of swelling and redness from the area where the electrodes are attached.
ECG RESULTSYour doctor will search for an even and consistent heart rate and rhythm... around 50 to 100 beats per minute, to be exact. Having an irregular, slower, or faster heartbeat will provide him hints regarding your heart health, including heart rhythm (detecting the presence of arrhythmias and tachycardia), heart rate, structural abnormalities, and the risk for heart attack.