Often abbreviated as EKG, an electrocardiogram is a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes placed on your skin. An EKG shows how fast the heart is beating, the strength and timing of each beat, and whether the rhythm is steady or irregular.
At WestMed Family Healthcare, we use this noninvasive test can help us detect various heart conditions.
What is an EKG?
Each time your heart beats, an electrical impulse travels through the heart. This electrical impulse triggers the heart muscle to contract and pump blood from the heart. The heart beats in a highly coordinated manner. Any irregularity in the heartbeat can indicate an underlying problem.
Looking at the pattern of the EKG provides health care professionals with information about the heart.
An EKG measures:
- Heart rate
- Heart rhythm
- Orientation of the heart
- Evidence of impaired blood flow
- Electrical pattern
- Evidence of increased thickness
Why do I need an EKG?
Your doctor may order an EKG as part of a physical exam or screening, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or heart palpitations. An EKG can help us diagnose:
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Underlying heart disorders
- Acute heart attack
- Blood flow problems
- Damage from lung disease
- Damage from heart disease
- Congenital heart diseases
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart or lining)
What to expect from an EKG
Our techs apply a small amount of gel to your skin to help transmit electrical impulses to the EKG leads that are attached to your body. You lie flat and comfortable we attach leads to your skin by small suction cups.
Typically, 10 electrodes are attached to the chest and sometimes the limbs. The test is painless and doesn’t cause any discomfort. The EKG machine doesn’t send electricity into your body and the entire test only takes about five minutes.
We ask you to remain still during the test because moving can interfere with the results. You may breathe normally as you lie still. The electrodes record the impulses as your heartbeats. A computer records the impulses and displays them as waves.
Your doctor reads your EKG results and looks for abnormalities. Among the conditions an EKG can find are:
Heart rate problems
An ECG can help us identify a faster than normal or slower than normal heart rate.
An ECG can show heart rhythm irregularities.
An ECG shows evidence of a previous heart attack or one in progress as it happens.
Inadequate blood supply to the heart
If you’re having symptoms like chest pain or tightness, an EKG can help us determine whether lack of blood flow is the cause.
An ECG can provide evidence of enlargement of the walls or chambers of your heart.
If we find any abnormalities on your ECG, we may schedule you for additional tests.
An EKG is helpful in gathering information about your heart. To learn more, schedule a well visit with our providers at WestMed Family Healthcare or use our online tool to request an appointment. Checkups are vital for evaluating and monitoring your overall health.