How It Is Done
You may get an EKG as part
of a physical exam. This may be done at your health professional's office or during a
series of tests at a hospital or clinic. EKG equipment is often portable. This means
the test can be done almost anywhere. If you are in the hospital, your heart
may be constantly monitored by an EKG system.
During an EKG:
- You will lie on a bed or table. Certain areas of your
arms, legs, and chest will be
cleaned and may be shaved. This provides a clean, smooth surface to attach the
- Several electrodes are
attached to the skin on each arm and leg and on your chest. These are hooked to a
machine that traces your heart activity onto a paper. If an older machine is
used, the electrodes may be moved at different times during the test. This measures
your heart's electrical activity from different places on your chest.
- You will be asked
to lie very still and breathe normally during the test. Sometimes you may be
asked to hold your breath. You should not talk during the test.
the test, the electrode paste is wiped off.
usually takes 5 to 10 minutes.
How It Feels
The electrodes may feel cool when they
are put on your chest. If you have a lot of hair on your chest, a small area
may need to be shaved to put the electrodes on. When the electrodes are taken
off, they may pull your skin a little.
An EKG is a completely safe test. In most
cases, there is no reason why you should not be able to get an EKG.
The electrodes are used to transfer an image of your heart's electrical activity
to the tracing on paper. No electricity passes through your body from
the machine, and there is no danger of electrical shock.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a
test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An
EKG shows the heart's electrical activity as line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.