Heart Health

What is an Electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram – commonly referred to as an ECG or EKG – is a simple, non-invasive test used to measure the electrical current that flows through the heart. A healthy person’s electrocardiogram will display a specific current pattern. When there is a change to that pattern, an electrocardiogram can help your doctor diagnose the potential heart defect causing the change.

Your doctor may use an electrocardiogram to determine:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (Arrhythmias)
  • Coronary artery blockage
  • Heart damage
  • Heart Failure
  • Evidence of an evolving or prior heart attack
  • The progress of an implanted pacemaker

Your doctor may recommend an electrocardiogram if you experience symptoms that suggest a heart problem, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or confusion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, fatigue or a decline in the ability to exercise

What happens during an Electrocardiogram?

During an electrocardiogram, electrodes (small, plastic patches that adhere to the skin) are placed on the body in standardized locations. The electrodes are then connected to a machine by lead wires. The electrical activity of the heart is measured, interpreted, and printed out of the electrocardiogram machine.

What are the risks of an Electrocardiogram?

There is no pain or risk associated with having an electrocardiogram. However, patients may experience minor discomfort during the removal of the electrodes from the skin. 

The health care professionals at Baptist Health are able to detect many heart conditions using an electrocardiogram. If you would like to learn more about electrocardiograms, or other cardiac care procedures, request an appointment with one of our experts today.