Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

An electrocardiogram is used to monitor your heart. Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse normally generated from special cells in the upper right chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart. Your doctor can use an electrocardiogram to look for patterns among these heartbeats and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions.

An electrocardiogram is a noninvasive, painless test. The results of your electrocardiogram will likely be reported the same day it's performed, and your doctor will discuss them with you at your next appointment.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

An electrocardiogram is a painless, noninvasive way to diagnose many common types of heart problems. Your doctor may use an electrocardiogram to detect:

  • Irregularities in your heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
  • Heart defects
  • Problems with your heart's valves
  • Blocked or narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease)
  • A heart attack, in emergency situations
  • A previous heart attack
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