Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

What happens in an EKG?

An electrocardiogram — abbreviated as EKG or ECG — is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse (or “wave”) travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on ECG will show the timing of the upper and lower chambers.

The upper chambers make the first wave on the graph called a “P wave" — followed by a flat line when the heart’s electrical impulse travels to the lower chambers. The lower chambers, or ventricles, make the next wave called a “QRS complex." The final wave or “T wave” represents electrical recovery or return to a resting state for the ventricles. (See labeled diagram)

Why is an EKG Recommended?

An EKG provides two major kinds of information.

First, a trained professional can read the graph to determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. The speed of the heart’s rhythm patterns can help identify if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast, or irregular.

Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, your healthcare team may be able to tell if parts of your heart are overworked or have become enlarged.

Does it hurt?

No. There’s no pain or risk associated with having an electrocardiogram. When the EKG stickers are removed, there may be some minor discomfort.

Is it harmful?

No. The machine only records the EKG. It doesn’t send electricity into the body.

Recent Discussions From The Providers Office Forum
Marcolandin avatar

Does anyone know a great doctor for afib in Houston, everyone tells me to go to st. Luke’s hospital but I would like something more specific. I had an ablation last year and I still go into afib everyday. I even was placed on more meds. I’m 34 and I know there is no “cure” but going into afib everyday keeps me from working out and enjoying trips with friends and family. Thank you for the help

Geronimo avatar

I've had Afib for over a year and during that time have had an ablation and 10+ Cardioversions. I went back into AFib 3 weeks ago and couldn't be cardioverted out this time so question on the table is if I should go back for the 2nd Ablation. I'm wondering if I should just live with the symptoms or go for the 2nd ablation. The past year hasn't been fun living in constant fear of when/if I will go back into Afib, looking out for possible triggers (no canfine, no alchohol, limited excercise, etc.)  not to mention I hate being Cardioverted every 40-90 days. It seems like I might be better off just accepting my persistent Afib with the associated sysmptoms and living my life as is. Has anyone else gone through this thought process? Any idea of what the long term impact is if I take this course of action?

Deb M avatar

I am going into the hospital next Wednesday for "tikosyn load". My doctor's office is not very forthcoming with information. Can anyone tell me what to expect? How is the load done and monitored? Is the load constant through IV or only at particular times? Do you have to actually lay in a bed for 3 days or can you get up and move around? Can you shower? What should you take to the hospital with you? Were you able to have visitors? How long before you can resume normal activies when you return home? Has being on this medication changed your life style?I would appreciate any advice anyone has. Thank you.

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