Dismiss Modal

One way to get a quick assessment of your heart’s rhythm or help determine if you have had a heart attack is to have an EKG or ECG. This test records the electrical activity of the heart, drawing a picture or graph that can indicate if there is a heart problem.

Most often your doctor will order an EKG if you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath or if a heart attack or other abnormality is suspected.

When you arrive at the lab, a technologist will place 10 electrodes with adhesive pads on your chest, arms and legs. In some cases, if you have hair in these regions, the hair will be shaved so that the electrode can make contact with the skin. As you lie on a table, a computer will record the electrical activity that runs through your heart.

The actual recording of the electrical activity only takes a few minutes. Afterwards, the technologist will remove the electrodes and the results will be interpreted by a cardiologist. The report will be forwarded to your physician who will talk with you about your test results.

How to prepare for an EKG 

There is no real preparation for an EKG, except to wear a shirt that buttons up the front, avoid wearing full-length hose and any skin creams or oils. Electrodes that connect to the device are used in different parts of the body, so the technologist will need easy access and creams/oils will prohibit the electrode pads from sticking to the skin.

An EKG or ECG may be the first step in uncovering heart problems and is a simple, non-invasive way of checking your heart health.