An electrocardiogram – which is called an EKG because of its German spelling, elektrokardiogramm – shows the electrical activity of a person’s heart as presented on a graph. An EKG is usually combined with other imaging procedures as a means to monitor the activity of the heart muscle and detect any abnormalities.
The EKG (or ECG) will show the doctor a patient’s heart rate, heartbeat speed, and any heart defects. A patient may also be connected to an EKG machine during surgery while under anesthesia so the surgeons can monitor the patient’s heart rate.
Noninvasive Heart Rate and Diagnostic Monitor
A patient who reports having chest pain, weakness, or shortness of breath will usually be given a resting electrocardiogram, which tests the heart activity while the patient is lying down completely still. Based on the pattern shown on the video-graph, the doctor will usually be able to tell whether there is any abnormal movement of the heart.
A person who has had a heart attack or is currently having a heart attack will produce very abnormal electrical patterns on the graph. An EKG is quick and noninvasive, and it has no known risks and is entirely safe.
How an EKG Works
There is no specific preparation needed before an EKG. It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows access to your chest area during the procedure.
- First, a nurse will clean your chest before placing the sensors. Some men may need to have certain areas of the chest shaved.
- Then, sensors will be placed on your chest, arms, and legs via adhesives.
- Next, the sensors are attached to electrodes that are connected to an EKG machine. The technician will ask you to lie completely still.
- Finally, the EKG machine will present a reading of your heart activity and record the results.
The entire procedure, including preparation, is completed within about 10 minutes. Your doctor can explain to you the results of your EKG on the same day.
The EKG results may lead to a diagnosis, or your physician may request more tests for further analysis before a firm diagnosis is made.
Further Testing for Heart Irregularities
An EKG test can diagnose heart attacks, rhythm problems, heart conditions, mineral imbalances, and even drug overdoses. It is standard equipment in surgery rooms and emergency rooms.
However, a resting EKG test may miss certain heart issues – especially if you experience them while being physically active. In this case, a doctor may request further heart monitoring tests, such as a stress test.
A stress test is conducted by letting you walk on a treadmill while attached to an EKG machine. Your doctor may also run a cardiac stress test using nuclear medicine to check the volume of blood flow to your heart during exercise.
Imaging Specialists in Palm Beach County
If you are experiencing chest pains or heart rhythm irregularities, our highly trained and highly experienced medical staff at Independent Imaging will help your doctor determine your condition.
Our offices are located in Wellington, Belle Glade, Lake Worth, and Royal Palm Beach. Give us a call at (561) 795-5558 today or request an appointment online. We look forward to assisting you and your physician with our diagnostic testing services.