EKG Testing

This noninvasive test is performed to catch underlying heart conditions that can lead to conditions such as: angina, occurrence of a prior heart attack, an evolving heart attack, heart disease, and more.

EKG Testing

This noninvasive test is performed to catch underlying heart conditions that can lead to conditions such as: angina, occurrence of a prior heart attack, an evolving heart attack, heart disease, and more.

What Is EKG Testing?

An EKG is a standard test performed by a doctor or health care provider that records the electrical activity of your heart in a matter of minutes. This noninvasive test is performed to catch underlying heart conditions that can lead to conditions such as: angina, occurrence of a prior heart attack, an evolving heart attack, heart disease, and more.

What To Expect During An EKG Test

When receiving this heart test at a providers office, outpatient clinic or hospital, the patient will be asked by their health care provider to lay down in a comfortable position, and the doctor will attach sticky pads that contain electrodes to your chest and limbs. According to Medline Plus, in a standard EKG test, there are usually ten electrodes, which are connected with a wire that transmits the patient’s heart readings to a monitor.

After a few minutes, the electrical activity of your heart will have been recorded, and the result will be a readout similar to what you associate with a heart monitor – a thin line with peaks and valleys that represent your heartbeat. These readings are than interpreted by your cardiologist who uses them to determine if your heart is beating at an abnormal rhythm or is receiving the correct amount of oxygen.

Preparing For Your EKG

Most doctors recommend avoiding exercising or drinking cold water before your test. This is because cold water can cause changes in electrical patterns recorded during the test, and exercise can increase your resting heart rate temporarily which may skew the results. 

Exercise And Stress Tests

Depending on your age, stage of life, genetics, and social risk factors, your health care provider may perform an exercise and stress test. Your provider will perform an exercise and stress test if you have symptoms of heart disease such as: shortness of breath, chest pain, heavy heartbeats, or irregular heartbeat. Looking at family history, these tests may also be recommended if your lineage has a history of heart disease, diabetes and other risk factors. If you are at risk of heart disease and looking to start a new exercise program, your provider will recommend having an EKG to determine if your heart is healthy enough for added stressors. 

During an exercise / stress test, the patient will be hooked up to the EKG machine with electrodes as they partake in increased levels of physical activity on a treadmill. This is important because the extra “stress” put on the heart during heavy exertion mimics how the patient’s heart behaves during physical activity, which is often different than at rest. 

EKG Testing Risks

When undergoing an EKG test, there is no risk to the patient’s health. Often times, patients will feel minor skin irritation or discomfort after the electrodes are removed. The EKG does not actually produce electricity, it only picks up on the readings that your body gives off and records them – so there is absolutely no risk of electric shock. 

Abnormal EKG

Do not be afraid if your health care provider tells you that the results of your test are abnormal. An abnormal EKG can have many different meanings. Often times an abnormality is actually a normal variation of the heart rate (heart rhythm).

In other cases, an abnormal heart rhythm can be a sign of a medical emergency, such as a myocardial infraction (heart attack) or a dangerous arrhythmia. A doctor or health care provider trained in interpreting EKG’s will be able to determine if your symptoms need any further treatment. 

EKG vs ECG?

You may have heart electrocardiograms abbreviated “EKG” and “ECG”, but is there a difference?

Actually, both are correct terminology and commonly used in place of one another. You may notice that the English word electrocardiogram does not have the letter “k” in it, this is because EKG comes from the German spelling “elektrokardiogramm”. 

FAQ's

Depending on the patient, the doctor or health care provider may feel that the EKG taken at a resting heart rate does not provide enough insight about the heart muscle. Similar to standard electrocardiograms, the ten electrodes will be placed on the patient’s chest. 

The difference is, instead of being stationary, the patient will be asked to walk on a treadmill while the heart rhythm is monitored, with the speed gradually increasing over time until the patient cannot continue.

When patients have past records of experiencing chest pain, or have other risk factors such as congestive heart failure, previous heart attacks, or heart defects, the EKG will give the patients physician valuable data about heart health.

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