An electrocardiogram, referred to as an EKG or ECG, is a simple and quick test to measure the electrical activity of your heartbeat. Small adhesive pads with metal electrodes are placed on your skin at specific spots on your chest, arms, and legs. The electrodes are then connected to a machine to measure the timing of beats of the upper and lower chambers of the heart.
The machine records how fast the heart is beating, and if the rhythm is steady (sinus rhythm) or irregular, and how long the electrical impulses take to move through your heart. Any abnormalities can be a sign of a heart-related condition.
Why Would I Need an EKG Test?
An EKG test is used to assess heart rhythm and size. An abnormal EKG can help identify:
- Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats or rhythm)
- Birth defects in the heart
- Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart muscles)
- Coronary artery disease
- Electrical disturbances in your heartbeat
- Potential or previous heart attacks
- Heart failure
- Heart valve disease
Types of EKG Tests
There are several types of EKG tests that are used to identify heart disease. Depending on your symptoms and the length of time you have been experiencing symptoms, your doctor may order one of the following tests:
- 12-lead EKG – 12 electrodes are placed on your chest, arms, and legs to measure your resting heart activity. This requires no preparation and takes only a few minutes
- Signal-averaged EKG – similar to the 12-lead test but lasting 20 minutes or more. This will help detect any abnormal heartbeats that happen intermittently
- Holter monitor – This is a mobile EKG that you wear over a period of time. Electrodes are placed at certain points on your body and you wear a portable EKG machine. The machine can be worn from 24 hours to 30 days, depending on your symptoms and doctor’s recommendation
- Stress test or exercise EKG – Electrodes are placed on your chest, arms, and legs while you walk on a treadmill. In addition to your heart rate, the doctor may also monitor breathing or blood pressure during this test
Learn More About Electrocardiograms
Bassett Healthcare Network offers EKG testing in Central New York, including in Oneonta, Cobleskill, Cooperstown, Herkimer, Little Falls, and Delhi.