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EKG Test: What to Expect

An EKG, also known as an ECG, is a type of cardiac screening procedure which evaluates heart rhythm and rate, to assess for any abnormalities. EKG stands for electrocardiogram, but the shorthand acronym is most commonly used in medical settings.

Your doctor may recommend an EKG, which can performed in the office, for any of the following reasons:

  • You have known heart disease
  • You are determined to be at risk for heart disease
  • You have symptoms concerning for an irregular heart rate or rhythm
  • You take certain medications which are known to affect heart rate or rhythm
  • Your heart rate or heart sounds are abnormal during your visit
  • After reviewing your blood work results, personal medical history and physical exam results, your doctor determines that an EKG would be beneficial for you, OR
  • Simply to serve as a baseline EKG to compare with any future EKG performed

After discussing your specific need for an EKG, your doctor will have you change into a gown. A nurse or medical assistant will place stickers on your chest, arms and legs then connect twelve wires (called leads) from the EKG machine to each sticker. Once you are properly connected, lying flat and still, the EKG will begin to record your heart’s electrical activity through sensors in the leads. This information will provide your doctor with an accurate depiction of your heart rate and rhythm during your visit.

Despite the many reasons your doctor may order an EKG in the office, EKGs are more commonly used in the hospital and emergency room settings to provide quick and sometimes constant cardiac monitoring.