What is an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram is a recording of the electrical impulses of your heart. As the electrical activity moves through the heart muscle, it causes the heart to contract and relax resulting in heartbeats. The electrical activity can be measured in its amplitude and duration.
How is an electrocardiogram performed?
Electrical signals generated from the electrical activity of the heart are measured on electrodes (sticky pads) which are placed over the chest wall and limbs. These specific electrodes are painless. It takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to perform. Sometimes the chest has to be shaven for electrodes to adhere to the chest wall.
Do I need to prepare for the electrocardiogram?
There is no preparation required for an EKG.
What are indications for an EKG?
The EKG is a standard test that is very helpful in evaluating many heart conditions. Here are some of the indications for an electrocardiogram:
· The EKG is helpful in explaining chest pain. It’s helpful when patients are having heart attack. It’s helpful when patients have angina.
· EKG is used in the diagnosis of pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the pericardial sac around the heart.
· EKG is invaluable in evaluating abnormal heart electrical activity as seen in arrhythmias. It’s helpful in rapid heartbeats, irregular heartbeats, slow heartbeats, palpitations.
· The EKG is helpful in evaluating for hypertensive heart disease.
· EKG is often used in screening in patients who have cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, history of tobacco, history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
· EKG is often used to determine adequacy of medical management. It’s also used to determine if there are side effects from medications.
· EKG can also be helpful when patients have other medical conditions, such as thyroid disease, emphysema, certain infections, other endocrine disorders.
· The EKG is helpful in the presence of rheumatologic disorders, such as systemic lupus, erythromatosis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis.
· Valvular heart disease such as aortic stenosis and mitral stenosis are often reasons why electrocardiograms are performed.
· In the presence of heart failure with a weak heart as seen in cardiomyopathy, often is a common indication for an electrocardiogram.
· Electrocardiograms are often helpful in diagnosis of congenital cardiac disorders.