An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a simple medical test that generates a graph showing the activity of your heart. Painless and quick, an EKG gives you valuable information about the electrical phases of each heartbeat.
Physicians Clifton Etienne, MD, Michael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD, at Westmed Family Healthcare frequently use EKGs to diagnose various heart problems or monitor them over time. At our office in Westminster, Colorado, you can get this noninvasive test during a routine visit.
Every year, health care providers perform over 300 million EKGs to gather information about patients’ cardiac function. Our team can interpret your EKG results right away to keep you informed and ultimately improve your health care experience.
In this blog, we tell you why you might need an EKG and what the results can reveal about your health.
When we recommend EKG testing
EKGs aren’t always necessary, but they can provide insight into particular symptoms that may be related to your heart. Heart problems don’t always cause symptoms, but when they do, those symptoms can be ambiguous and need to be explored. An EKG can indicate or rule out possible heart problems as an underlying cause of:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- A racing heart
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms aren’t always a prerequisite for an EKG, however. Unlike some screening tests, EKGs are risk-free and completely noninvasive. Your physician might recommend getting an EKG if you have a family history of heart problems but don’t have any symptoms yourself.
What your EKG can tell you
Upon getting an EKG at Westmed Family Healthcare, you see what looks like a line graph on a nearby computer monitor or printed paper. The lines fluctuate repeatedly, indicating your ongoing heartbeat. Each fluctuation indicates electrical activity somewhere in your heart. The electrodes used in the test collect information about electrical activity from 12 different areas of your heart.
A standard heartbeat has a specific appearance on an EKG graph. Any deviation from the standard could indicate some type of dysfunction somewhere in your heart. Our team can tell which area is showing potential issues by seeing which part of the graph is different from a typical EKG graph.
Alongside other tests, an EKG can help your provider diagnose common heart concerns like:
- Past heart attacks
- Blocked or narrowed arteries from atherosclerosis
- Heart valve issues
Your provider might also use an EKG to see how well a specific treatment is working for your heart. For example, if you have a pacemaker to treat arrhythmia, an EKG helps you monitor the pacemaker’s success in regulating your heartbeat.
Have questions about your heart?
Our team can answer them and determine if an EKG is necessary to gather further information. We can tell you exactly what your EKG indicates and determine your next course of testing or treatment should you need it. Schedule your visit by calling our Westmed Family Healthcare office or booking online today.