An electrocardiogram, also known as EKG or ECG, is a test that records your heart's electrical activity. It is painless and helps in detecting and studying many heart problems like heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart failure. The results of an EKG can also suggest other disorders that affect heart function.
For an ECG, no special preparations are necessary. However, you must avoid drinking cold water or exercising just before an electrocardiogram. Cold water can produce potentially misleading changes in one of the electrical patterns recorded during the test. Physical activity, such as climbing stairs, may increase your heart rate.
An EKG can also show:
Mostly, the doctor tells you the results of your ECG the same day it's done. If your EKG is normal, you may not need to undergo any other tests. If the results show there's a problem with your heart, you may need a repeat ECG or other diagnostic tests, such as an echocardiogram. Treatment for your heart's condition depends on what's causing your signs and symptoms.
An ECG is a safe procedure which may cause some minor discomfort, similar to removing a bandage, when the electrodes taped to your chest to measure your heart's electrical signals are removed. Rarely, a reaction to the electrodes may cause redness or swelling of the skin.
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