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An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a routine test used to observe the electrical activity of the heart as it beats. This test will help your doctor examine your heart rhythm, the size and function of your heart’s chambers, and your heart muscle.

What does an EKG measure?

The EKG measures the electrical energy that is sent from the SA node (the heart’s “natural pacemaker”) throughout your heart. An EKG typically has a certain consistent, normal rhythm pattern.

Conditions like a heart attack and arrhythmias will cause a change in the heart’s electrical activity that will show in an EKG, helping the doctor to diagnose the problem.

How does the test occur?

No prep is needed before an EKG.

You will lie on an exam table where a technician will clean the areas where electrodes (small metal disks) will be taped to your chest, back, wrists, and ankles. The electrodes have wires (called leads) that connect to the electrocardiogram machine.

Once the electrodes are in place, you will need to lie still for about a minute while readings are taken.

The impulses are stored and will give your doctor a good record of your heart’s electrical activity.

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