OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

What is an EKG?

ekg.jpg An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless, routine test that measures the rate and rhythm of your heart. While the patient lies flat on a bed or table, a health care professional places small electrodes on various locations on the chest, legs and arms. Wires connect to the electrodes and take an electrical recording of the heart’s activity, translating the heartbeats into wavy lines that a cardiologist can read. By picking up on the heart’s electrical impulses, the test can determine the orientation of the heart, if there has been damage to the heart muscle, if there is a thickening of the heart muscle, along with a number of other changes.

How to prepare for your EKG

  • Avoid exercise immediately prior to the test.
  • Medications can alter results of the test. Be sure and let your doctor know all prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking prior to your EKG test.
  • Because you will be asked to undress from the waist up, you may want to wear a two-piece outfit. You may be given a gown to wear.
  • Remove all jewelry on your neck, arms and wrists.
  • Because electrodes are placed on the chest, men may be shaved in a small area (or areas).
  • You will need to lie quietly for several minutes during the exam. Try and relax, and avoid talking during the test. Any movement can alter the results.
  • The technician may ask you to take a deep breath, exhale and relax during the test. Follow instructions and remain relaxed.

Getting your results

In most cases, your EKG will be interpreted within 24 hours. Please keep in mind that your doctor’s office may need additional time to incorporate the report into your personal medical record.