An EKG, or ECG, is a test used to check for problems with the electrical activity of the heart and is short for electrocardiogram. An EKG can display the heart’s electrical activity by utilizing a special instrument which draws a line on a long strip of paper. Doctors are trained to read these markings and interpret the spike and dips in the waves. The heart muscle is divided into fourchambers which pump blood. The two upper chambers are the atria and the two lower are the ventricles. These chambers pump through a natural electrical system which circulates blood throughout the body.
A doctor will request an EKG to:
During the EKG, the patient will often lie on an exam table or bed. Usually certain areas of the person’s arms, chest, and legs will be cleaned and possibly shaved. This provide a smooth surface on which to apply the electrodes. The electrodes are the placed on the skin. They are connected to a machine which traces heart activity onto the long strip of paper. The patient will be asked to lie still and breathe normally. For portions of the test the patient may be asked to hold his or her breath. Patients should avoid talking during the test. After the test is complete, the electrodes will be removed and the paste will be wiped clean. On average, the test takes 5 to 10 minutes.
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