Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram, or EKG, is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart through 10 small electrode patches attached to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. An EKG may be part of a complete physical exam or it may be used to further investigate symptoms related to heart problems. EKGs are quick, safe, painless and inexpensive tests that are routinely performed if a heart condition is suspected. Your doctor uses the EKG to assess your heart rhythm, diagnose poor blood flow to the heart muscle, diagnose a heart attack, or evaluate certain abnormalities of your heart, such as an enlarged heart. During the procedure, a technician will attach 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. You will lie flat while the computer creates a picture, on graph paper, of the electrical impulses traveling through your heart. This is called "resting" EKG. This same test may also be used to monitor your heart during exercise. It takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test, but the actual recording takes only a few seconds.