An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves. See a picture of the EKG components and intervals.
The heart is a muscular pump made up of four chambers . The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. A natural electrical system causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. See a picture of the heart and its electrical system.
Many medicines may change the results of this test. Be sure to tell us about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take. If you take heart medicines, we will tell you how to take your medicines before you have this test.
Remove all jewelry from your neck, arms, and wrists. Men are usually bare-chested during the test. Women may often wear a bra, t-shirt, or gown. If you are wearing stockings, you should take them off. You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.
Let us know about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is done to: