An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a diagnostic tool to measure and record the electrical activity of the heart. The heart’s muscles receive rhythmic electrical signals telling them when to contract. These impulses are recorded and documented on a strip of paper. Electrocardiograms are used to assess the heart’s function in cases of unexplained chest pain, symptoms of heart disease such as rapid heart rate and shortness of breath, and associated diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is also used to check the effectiveness of heart medications or implanted pacemakers.
You are made to lie down. Small sticky patches called electrodes are taped on to your skin on your chest, arms and legs to record the heart’s electrical activity. The electrodes are connected to the EKG machine, which translates the heart’s electrical impulses into wavy lines that can be printed. The same test may be performed while you are running on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to evaluate your heart’s function when under stress (stress test). The computerized test results are made available to your physician in less than 24 hours.
An electrocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive test that can be obtained through a home health care service for the elderly or bedbound patients, to avoid the stress as well as the risks associated with hospital visits.