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Electrocardiogram Procedure for Diagnosing Heart Disease. A Cardiologist Puts Electrodes o

What is the electrocardiogram?

What is the electrocardiogram

The electrocardiogram records the electrical signals of the heart. It is a common, painless test used to quickly detect heart problems and monitor heart health.

The electrocardiogram study, also called ECG or EKG, is available in our Units: Altamira and El Edén. 

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Why is it done?

An EKG is a painless, noninvasive procedure that helps diagnose various heart problems. Your doctor may order an EKG to determine or detect:

  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias).

  • If clogged or narrowed arteries to the heart (coronary artery disease) are causing chest pain or a heart attack.

  • If you have had a previous heart attack.

  • How certain treatments for heart disease, such as a pacemaker, are working.

You may need to have an EKG if you have any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or confusion

  • heart palpitations

  • rapid pulse

  • Shortness of breath

  • Weakness, fatigue, or decreased ability to exercise

The American Heart Association does not recommend the use of EKGs to evaluate low-risk adults who do not have symptoms. But if you have a family history of heart disease, your treating doctor may suggest that you have an EKG as a screening test, even if you don't have symptoms.

If your symptoms tend to come and go, they may not be detected during a standard EKG. The doctor may then recommend a control called an arrhythmia Holter monitor .


The electrocardiogram is a safe procedure. There is no risk of receiving an electric shock during the test because the electrodes used do not produce electricity. The electrodes only record the electrical activity of the heart.

You may feel a little discomfort when the electrodes are removed, similar to what you feel when you remove a bandage. Some people get a mild rash where the electrodes were placed.

How to prepare

For a standard EKG, no special preparation is needed. Tell your doctor about the medications and supplements you take. These can affect the results of the electrocardiogram.


The electrocardiogram can be done in our Altamira or El Edén units.


You may be asked to wear a hospital gown. If you have hair on the parts of your body where the electrodes will be placed, your health care provider may shave the area so the patches will stick.

Once you're ready, you'll be asked to lie down on an exam table.


During an EKG, up to 12 sensors (electrodes) are placed on your chest and extremities. Electrodes are sticky patches with wires attached to a monitor. These record the electrical signals that cause the heart to beat. A computer records the information and displays it as waves on a monitor or on paper.

You can breathe during the test, but you must remain lying down and not moving. Make sure you are warm and prepared to lie flat and still. Moving, talking, or shivering can affect the test results. A standard EKG takes only a few minutes.


You can resume your usual activities after the EKG.


The result of the electrocardiogram is issued by a cardiologist and we deliver it to you within 48 hours, so if your case is an emergency, we suggest you visit a hospital.

EKG results provide information about the following:

  • heart rate  Normally, the heart rate can be measured by monitoring the pulse. An EKG is useful if the pulse is hard to detect or if the pulse is too fast or too irregular to count accurately. An EKG can help identify an unusually fast heart rate (tachycardia) or an unusually slow heart rate (bradycardia).

  • Heart rate.  An EKG can detect irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). An arrhythmia can occur when any part of the heart's electrical system does not work properly.

  • Heart attack.  An EKG may show evidence of a previous heart attack or one that is ongoing. The patterns seen on the EKG can help determine which part of the heart has been damaged, as well as the extent of the damage.

  • Supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.  An EKG done while symptoms are occurring can help your treating doctor determine if the cause of your chest pain is reduced blood flow to your heart muscle.

  • Changes in the cardiac structure.  An EKG can provide clues about an enlarged heart, heart defects, and other heart problems.

If the result shows that there is a problem with your heart rhythm, you may need to have another EKG or other test, such as an echocardiogram. Treatment depends on the cause of your signs and symptoms.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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