The electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a noninvasive test that is used to reflect underlying heart conditions by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. It is part of a routine physical examination or screening evaluation. By positioning leads (electrical sensing devices) on the body in standardized locations, information about many heart conditions can be learned by looking for characteristic patterns on the ECG.
How Should I prepare for the procedure?
Refrain from drinking cold water or exercising before your EKG. Drinking cold water can cause changes in the electrical patterns that the test records. Exercise can increase your heart rate and affect the test results.
What will I experience during the procedure?
An EKG is quick, painless, and harmless. Leads are attached to each extremity (4 total) and to 6 pre-defined positions on the front of the chest. The technician may have to shave small areas to ensure the electrodes stick properly to your skin. Each electrode is about the size of a quarter. During the test, you’ll need to lie still on a table while the machine records your heart’s electrical activity and places the information on a graph. Make sure to lie as still as possible and breathe normally.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A cardiologist, who is a doctor, specialized in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of conditions related to the heart and blood vessels will analyze the images and send a signed report with the interpretation to the patient’s personal physician. The patient receives EKG results from the referring physician who ordered the test. New technology also allows for distribution of diagnostic reports and referral images over the Internet at many facilities.
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