Electrocardiogram
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What is Electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures the electrical activity of your heart. The heart generates electrical signal which flows out from your heart through your body. Small electrical sensors, called electrodes, are put on your skin to sense the electricity that began in your heart. The electrical activity is then turned into a graph. This can give doctors an idea of whether your heart is beating normally.

ECG/EKG Waves
ECG/EKG Waves
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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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...

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if you have heart-related symptoms, like chest pain or trouble breathing.

 
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