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.

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