DefinitionAn electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures the electrical activity of your heart. The heart generates an electrical signal, which flows out from your heart through your body. Small electrical sensors, called electrodes, are put on your skin to sense the electricity that began in your heart. The electrical activity is then turned into a graph. This can give doctors an idea of whether your heart is beating normally.
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Reasons for TestAn EKG is used to:
- Diagnose heart attacks and rhythm problems
- Offer clues about other heart conditions and conditions not directly related to the heart
- Detect conditions that change the body’s balance of electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium
- Detect other problems, such as overdoses of certain drugs
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Shortness of breath
- History of fainting
- Are about to have surgery with general anesthesia
- Are in occupations that stress the heart or where public safety is a concern
- Are an older adult or have diabetes
- Already have heart disease
- Have had a heart-related procedure, such as getting a pacemaker
Possible ComplicationsThere are no major complications associated with this test.