An electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of one's heartbeat.
With each beat, an electrical impulse travels through the heart. This impulse causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood. A normal heartbeat on EKG will show the timing of the top and lower heart chambers.
An EKG gives two major kinds of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the EKG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical impulse takes to pass through the heart, indicating if the electrical activity is normal, slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked.
There is no pain or risk associated with having an electrocardiogram.
Types of EKGs
- Holter Monitor - Records electrical events of the heart for 24 hours.
- Signal Averaged EKG - Helps identify patients prone to life-threatening arrhythmias.