An electrocardiogram test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. Every heartbeat is triggered by an electrical signal. Heart problems often affect the electrical activity of your heart.
An electrocardiogram is a simple, painless test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. It’s also known as an ECG or EKG. Every heartbeat is triggered by an electrical signal that starts at the top of your heart and travels to the bottom. Heart problems often affect the electrical activity of your heart.
EKG is quick, painless, and harmless. A technician attaches 12 to 15 soft electrodes with a gel to your chest, arms, and legs. The technician may have to shave small areas to ensure the electrodes stick properly to your skin. Each electrode is about the size of a quarter. These electrodes are attached to electrical leads (wires), which are then attached to the EKG machine. During the test, you’ll need to lie still on a table while the machine records your heart’s electrical activity and places the information on a graph. Make sure to lie as still as possible and breathe normally. You shouldn’t talk during the test. After the procedure, the electrodes are removed and discarded.
Abnormal EKG indicates because an EKG measures so many different aspects of the heart’s function, abnormal results can signify several issues.
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Heart attack or ischemia
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
How to Identify?
Doctor may recommend an EKG if you’re experiencing symptoms or signs that may suggest a heart problem, including:
- Pain in your chest
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling tired or weak
- Pounding, racing, or fluttering of your heart
- A feeling that your heart is beating unevenly
- Detection of unusual sounds when your doctor listens to your heart
Several symptoms can indicate that you may need an EKG to determine if your heart is functioning normally. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations or feeling your heart beating oddly
- The feeling that you might pass out
- Racing heart
- The feeling that your chest is being squeezed
What to Do?
Treatment response to an abnormal EKG typically depends on the underlying cause. For example, some people have a very slow heartbeat where the heart doesn’t conduct electrical signals in the correct order. This person may require a pacemaker, which helps restore the heart to a more normal rhythm. Other people may require medications taken regularly to maintain a more normal heart rhythm. Someone having a heart attack may require cardiac catheterization or surgery to allow blood flow to return to the heart. People with electrolyte imbalances may require correction with medications or fluids. For example, a person with dehydration may have imbalanced electrolytes that are causing an abnormal EKG. This person may require fluids, electrolyte-containing beverages, or medications to restore electrolytes. Sometimes, a doctor may not recommend any treatments for an abnormal EKG. This may be the case if a person doesn’t have troublesome symptoms or if the abnormality is not cause for concern.