What is an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram or ECG (also called an EKG) is a common, painless test that records the electrical activity of the heart and converts it into lines called "waveforms" that can be seen on a monitor or printed out on paper. The ECG is an initial test that can be done to look for heart disease or an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Who is a good candidate for an ECG?
Most patients who seek a cardiologist are good candidates for an ECG. Candidates should be able to remain still and are sometimes asked to hold their breath for short periods of time.
How is an ECG performed?
The patient lies down. "Electrodes" at the end of wires (or leads) are attached to each arm, leg and the chest. The ECG takes about ten minutes from start to finish, but the actual recording of the heart's electrical activity usually is done in a matter of seconds.