An electrocardiogram or Electrocardiography (EKG or ECG) is a test that determines the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help find problems with the heart muscle, valves, or rhythm. An EKG may be recommended by a heart specialist (cardiologist) or your primary physician to check for cardiac disease symptoms or as part of a routine check-up.
With this test, a physician can:
- Check heart rhythm
- See if there is a poor blood flow to your heart muscle (ischemia)
- Identify a heart attack
- Check abnormal things like thickened heart muscle
- Detect any significant electrolyte abnormalities, like high potassium or high or low calcium.
How to prepare for an EKG
You are advised to follow these preparatory measures before an EKG:
- Avoid oily skin creams and lotions the day of the test since they can keep the electrodes from making contact with the skin.
- Avoid full-length hosiery since electrodes need to be placed directly on your legs.
- Wear a loose shirt that you can remove easily to put the leads on your chest.
- You can eat normally before the test.