The EKG is read by
a doctor, such as an
family medicine doctor,
surgeon. The doctor will look
at the pattern of spikes and dips on your EKG to check the
electrical activity in different parts of your heart. The spikes and dips are
grouped into different sections that show how your heart is working.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) results
The heart beats in a regular rhythm, usually
between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
The tracing looks normal.
The heart beats too slow (such as less than 60 beats
The heart beats too fast (such as more than 100 beats per
The heart rhythm is not regular.
The tracing does not look
What Affects the Test
You may not be able to
have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
- The electrodes are not securely attached to
- You move or talk during the
- You exercise before the test.
- You are anxious or
breathe very deeply or rapidly during the test.
What To Think About
- Sometimes your EKG may look normal even when
you have heart disease. For this reason, the EKG should always be looked at
along with your symptoms, past health, and a physical exam. If needed,
other test results should be looked at too.
- An EKG cannot predict whether you
will have a
- At first, an EKG done
during a heart attack may look normal or unchanged from a previous EKG. So the
EKG may be repeated over several hours and days to look
for changes. These are called serial EKGs.
- Sometimes abnormal EKG
results can be seen only during exercise or while you have symptoms.
To check for these changes in the heartbeat, an ambulatory EKG or stress EKG
may be done.
- An ambulatory EKG is a type of portable,
continuous EKG monitor. To learn more, see the topic
- A stress EKG
is a type of EKG done during exercise. A resting EKG is always done before an
exercise EKG test. Results of the resting EKG are compared to the results
of the exercise EKG. A resting EKG may also show a heart problem that would
make an exercise EKG unsafe. To learn more, see the topic
- EKGs are not recommended for people who are healthy and have no symptoms of heart disease.1
- Sometimes doctors automatically schedule routine tests because they think that's what patients expect. But experts say routine heart tests can be a waste of time and money. To learn more, see Heart Tests: When Do You Need Them?