Electrocardiograms (EKG or ECG) can help identify a wide range of heart conditions including cardiac arrhythmias and evidence of a prior or ongoing heart attack. Franciscan Health offers EKG testing as a diagnosis tool in both emergency and non-emergency exams.
Diagnosing Heart Issues with an EKG
The electrocardiogram (EKG) is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart, as well as the size of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart (such as a pacemaker).
An EKG is very useful for determining if a person has heart disease. If a person has chest pain or palpitations, an EKG can help determine if the heart is beating normally. If a person is taking medications that may affect the heart or if the person has a pacemaker, an EKG can determine the immediate effects of changes in activity or medication levels. An EKG is not recommended as part of a routine examination except in special circumstances.
Anyone with a family history of heart disease should have regular, yearly check-ups with their doctor to monitor their heart status. Your yearly exam may include an EKG, which can be compared to the previous EKG's for changes. Once past the age of 50, your annual check-up may also include a stress test.
About the EKG procedure
During an EKG, a series of 10 electrode patches and lead wires will be attached to your chest, arms and legs. The test takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your EKG will be interpreted by one of our cardiologists and faxed to the ordering physician within 24 hours.
- The accuracy of the EKG varies with the condition being tested. Some heart conditions are not detectable all the time, while others may never produce any specific EKG changes.
- An EKG can help a doctor rapidly and accurately analyze a patient's heart rate. EKG may help detect heart enlargement. The test can help a doctor diagnose a heart attack, history of previous heart problems and a dangerous rhythm. EKG can even evaluate the heart's response to medication.
- EKG can cause minor irritation underneath the stickers used to attach the EKG wires to the patient's chest. This irritation usually lasts several minutes and fades without treatment.