What is an Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram or EKG, is a simple, painless test that records the heart's electrical activity. With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As it travels, the signal causes the heart to contract and pump blood. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. EKG is used to defect and study many heart problems, such as heart attacks, heart rhythm disturbance, and heart failure. The test's results also can suggest other disorders that affect heart function. EKG is an important part of the initial evaluation of a patient who is suspected to have a heart related problem.
How Do I Prepare for EKG?
EKG is safe and there is no risk involved. In rare cases, some people may develop skin irritation from the electrode adhesive, but no serious allergic reaction have been reported.
The only preparation for an EKG is to wear clothes that allow easy access to your chest. Thus, a blouse or shirt with buttons down the front is more practical. Your chest may be cleansed with alcohol to ensure good electrical contact with the EKG electrode. In men with hairy chest, small areas may have to be shaved to allow adequate skin contact with the electrode and avoid interfering artifacts.