Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a medical test that measures electrical activity of the heart detecting heart problems. This is a non-invasive and painless test performed by an ECG technician thru a machine producing electrocardiograph to a patient.
There are typically 10 electrodes attached to your chest and limbs. These wired electrodes are then attached to a monitor. These record the impulses that make your heart beat and display a wave on a monitor or printed on paper.

A doctor may recommend an ECG if a patient is experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, fatigue, dizziness, rapid pulse, palpitations, a previous heart attack, and if a patient has a family history of heart disease.

ECG is also performed to people with heart problems, to assess artificial cardiac pacemakers, and to monitor the effects of certain medications related to heart.

Patient Preparation

No special preparation for standard ECG. Let your doctor know about medications or supplements you are taking because these might affect the results of your test.

There are three types of ECG and these are:

Resting ECG
It takes only five to ten minutes by lying down and with no movement.
It is a safe procedure.

Ambulatory ECG (holter monitor)
It is a wearable battery-operated device recording continuous ECG for 24 or 48 hours. Normal activities can be done while wearing the monitor as long as you keep the electrodes and device dry. You will be instructed to write what you are doing when symptoms occur and the time to the given diary.
May cause some skin irritation because of the electrodes that are on your chest.

Cardiac stress test
This test is recommended by your doctor when symptoms often occur during exercise. You will be asked to walk and run on a treadmill machine. If your medical condition does not allow you to exercise, a certain drug mimicking the effect of exercise on your heart will be injected by your doctor.
May lead to irregular heart rhythms and rarely a heart attack caused by the medication and not by the ECG itself.

After an ECG Procedure

When the test is completed, the electodes are removed. The result of your ECG can be interpreted by the doctor based on your medical history, symptoms, and clinical examination. You can resume your normal activities right after the procedure.

Your doctor may ask you to undergo treatment if your ECG presents:

Enlargement of the heart
Poor blood supply to the heart
Heart damage (coronary occlusion)
Abnormal rhythm
Congenital heart defects
Heart inflammation
Previous heart attacks
Cardiac arrest during close monitoring

Your doctor may give you instructions for further management.

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