It happens around 70 times a minute. That’s over 100,000 times each day.
It’s your heartbeat.
Every beat of your heart is triggered by a naturally occurring electrical impulse. It causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. It’s an amazing process, yet easy to take for granted until something goes wrong. That’s when your doctor may order an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG).
Doctors use EKGs to detect and study many heart problems, such as heart attacks, arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), and heart failure. The test's results also can suggest other disorders that affect heart function.
What should I expect?
- EKG is a painless, noninvasive way to diagnose many common types of heart problems by recording the electrical current coming from your heart.
- This test takes only five to 10 minutes.
- Electrodes (patches) are placed on your chest while you lie flat on a bed or table.
- A small amount of gel is applied to the skin, which allows the electrical impulses of the heart to be more easily transmitted to the EKG leads.
- The leads may be attached by small suction cups, Velcro straps, or by small adhesive patches
- A special recording machine is fed information from the electrodes and the readings are printed out.
What can this test tell my doctor?
- How fast your heart is beating
- Whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular
- The strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of your heart
How should I prepare?
- 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.
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.
Hours/How to Reach Us
Electocardiogram testing is offered seven days per week and scheduled through Central Scheduling by calling (309) 852-7550.