The Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) Test at Allen Hospital in Waterloo, IA

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Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)

Why is the doctor performing this test?

To evaluate the heart's function by viewing its electrical activity.

What is the test?

An Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a painless, non-invasive test whereby the doctor visualizes the electrical impulses of your heart. The technician will place a total of approximately 10 electrode patches on the skin of your arms, legs and chest (sometimes it is necessary to shave small areas of body hair in order to get a good reading). These electrode patches are hooked up to an Electrocardiography machine which displays the electrical activity of your heart.

This test can give your doctor the following information about the functioning of your heart:

Heart attack

EKGs show whether you are currently having a heart attack or have had one in the past and can help differentiate between chest pain (angina) and a heart attack.

Heart rate and rhythm

EKGs exhibit how fast or slow your heart is beating, and if the beats are regular or irregular.

Heart structure

EKGs indicate the size and configuration of the heart, and possibly any defects you may have been born with.

Where is the test performed?

In the cardiology non-invasive testing center.

How long does this test take?

Approximately 5 minutes.