Each time your heart beats, the contractions and relaxations of the heart muscle emit electrical current. An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a medical recording of the electric impulses from the heart. Electrodes that send impulses to the EKG machine are attached to the patient’s skin at various points on the body. Those recorded currents are displayed on a computer monitor and can be printed out on special graph paper. Your heart’s electrical currents are recorded on the graph paper as an EKG. Qualified medical staff interpret the graphed results to determine any irregularities.
Most EKGs are performed in a critical care facility, telemetry or any place that a particular patient needs to be monitored. EKGs can help your doctor determine the status of your heart health. By graphing the electrical impulses of the heart, doctors and other trained medical staff are able to see the presence of any abnormalities. The EKG recording often reveals the scars of past heart attacks and other heart damage. Although the test cannot predict future heart attacks or other heart problems, a combination of family history and additional examinations may give your doctor a good idea of what to expect.
Individuals experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or heart palpitations will likely be referred for an EKG by their doctor. An EKG is a rapid and safe way to determine if a heart attack is occurring. Those reporting these types of symptoms will likely be referred to the nearest Emergency Room for further evaluation. If your doctor does not think your symptoms indicate a life-threatening situation, you may be asked to make an appointment with an EKG specialist for further observation.
An EKG is a very simple and painless procedure. The patients are instructed to lie face up on an examination table while electrodes are strategically placed at various points on their body. The electrodes are attached to cables and the cables are attached to the EKG machine. The electrodes send electronic impulses to the machine and results in a printed graph, which is a picture of your heart function. The procedure usually takes 15 to 20 minutes but may require a longer visit if the technician needs additional testing data. A stress test is a normal EKG procedure that requires the patient perform moderate exercise while recording heart rhythms.