An electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to evaluate the heart. Electrodes (small, plastic patches that stick to the skin) are placed at certain locations on the chest, arms, and legs. When the electrodes are connected to an ECG machine by lead wires, the electrical activity of the heart is measured, interpreted, and printed out. No electricity is sent into the body.
Natural electrical impulses coordinate contractions of the different parts of the heart to keep blood flowing the way it should. An ECG records these impulses to show how fast the heart is beating, the rhythm of the heart beats (steady or irregular), and the strength and timing of the electrical impulses as they move through the different parts of the heart. Changes in an ECG can be a sign of many heart-related conditions.
Some reasons for your doctor to request an electrocardiogram (ECG) include:
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend an ECG.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a quick, easy way to assess the heart’s function. Risks associated with ECG are minimal and rare.
You will not feel anything during the ECG, but it may be uncomfortable when the sticky electrodes are taken off. If the electrode patches are left on too long they may cause tissue breakdown or skin irritation.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
Certain factors or conditions may interfere with or affect the results of the ECG. These include, but are not limited to:
An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of your hospital stay. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
Generally, an ECG follows this process:
You should be able to go back to your normal diet and activities, unless your doctor tells you differently.
Generally, there is no special care after an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Tell your doctor if you develop any signs or symptoms you had prior to the ECG (for example, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting).
Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: