Electrocardiogram:
What is it?

Electrocardiogram:
How is it Used?


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Electrocardiogram Usage

Reasons for Test

An ECG is used to:

  • Diagnose heart attacks and rhythm problems
  • Offer clues about other heart conditions and conditions not primarily related to the heart
  • Detect conditions that alter the body’s balance of electrolytes (eg, potassium and magnesium )
  • Detect other problems, such as overdoses of certain drugs

Symptoms that may prompt an ECG include:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (fast heartbeats)
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or the feeling that you have to vomit
  • Abdominal pain
  • History of fainting
  • Taking certain drugs

An ECG may also be obtained if you:

  • Are about to have surgery with general anesthesia —to detect heart conditions that could worsen during surgery and put you at risk
  • Are in occupations that stress the heart or where public safety is a concern
  • Are an older adult or have diabetes—to obtain a record to compare with future ECGs
  • Already have heart disease—to check occasionally for any changes
  • Have had a heart-related procedure, such as getting a pacemaker

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