Electrocardiogram EKG

What is an EKG?
An electrocardiogram is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat.  With every beat
an electrical impulse (or “wave”) travels through the heart. .  This wave causes the muscle to pump blood from the heart.  An EKG shows the hearts electrical activity as a line tracing on paper.

What to Expect During an Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram is a painless and harmless procedure which takes about 10 minutes.  A medical assistant or nurse will attach soft, sticky patches called electrodes to the skin of the patient’s chest, arms and legs.  These patches are about the size of a quarter.

After the patches are attached to the skin, while the patient lies on the table the patches detect the hearts electrical activity from many areas at the same time.  Areas of the patient’s skin may have to be shaved to help the patches stick.

What Does An Electrocardiogram Show?
Many heart problems change the heart’s electrical activity in different ways.  An electrocardiogram (EKG) can assist on detecting these heart problems.  EKG recording can help physicians diagnose heart attacks that are in progress or have happened in the past.  This is mainly true if physicians can compare a current EKG recording to an older one.

An EKG is also able to show the following:

– Lack of blood flow to the heart muscle (coronary heart disease)
– A heart that doesn’t pump forcefully enough (heart failure)
– Heart muscle that’s too thick or parts of the heart that is too big (cardiomyopathy)
– A heartbeat that’s too fast, too slow, or irregular (arrhythmia)
– Birth defects in the heart (congenital heart defects)
– Problems with the heart valves (heart valve disease)
– Inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericarditis)
– It can reveal whether the heartbeat starts in the correct place in the heart.  The test also shows how long it takes for electrical signals to travel through the heart. Delays  in the time these signals take to travel may suggest heartblock or long QT syndrome