Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test done to check the electrical activity of the heart.  The electrical activity of the heart are shown as tracings on a graph paper.

The heartbeat is a result of electrical activity, and if the heart is having abnormalities in its pump or rhythm, doctors would check if there is something wrong with the electrical activity of their heart

How is an Electrocardiogram performed?

The procedure would involve placing several electrodes on your chest, arms, and legs so you would be asked to pull off your clothes as well as any piece of jewellery on these parts of your body.  These electrodes are hooked on a machine that then traces the electrical activity of your heart. If the parts of your body where the electrodes should be attached are hairy, they might need to be shaved

You will be asked to hold very still during the procedure and maintain normal breaths. However, at certain times, you might be asked to hold your breaths. After the test, the paste used to attach the electrodes to your skin is wiped off. The test usually takes between 5 to 10 minutes.

The EKG equipment is portable, so the test can be done anywhere. If you are on admission in the hospital ward and your heart’s health needs to be closely observed, you may be monitored by the EKG constantly until the monitoring is over

Why is an electrocardiogram performed?

An electrocardiogram is recommended by doctors to determine the cause of a patient’s unexplained chest pain or pressure, to diagnose heart disease in a patient with typical symptoms, to check if the chambers of the heart have normal thickness, to check the health status of the heart in a patient with heart disease, and to see how well the artificial pacemakers implanted in the heart are working.

An EKG is not recommended for patients who are healthy or who have no symptom of heart disease.

How does an electrocardiogram work?

The heart has four chambers. The upper half are the left and right atria (singular: atrium) which receive blood from the lungs and the rest of the body. The lower half are the left and right ventricles which pump blood to the rest of the body and the lungs respectively.

When the upper chamber receives blood, the ventricles are closed, while when the ventricles pump out blood, the atria are closed. All these activities occur in split seconds and in a rhythmic fashion forming the characteristic heartbeat. This cycle of pump is controlled by electric impulses generated by a structure in the heart called the sinoatrial node.

The electric impulses cause the heart chambers to contract and relax in waves. The electrocardiogram picks up these waves and traces them in a graph paper. Any abnormality involving the heart’s electrical activity is detected by the EKG.


What risks are associated with an electrocardiogram?

The procedure is completely safe and there is no danger of electric shock as no electricity is passed through the body during the procedure.

Clinics offering Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

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