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What is an electrocardiogram?

Electrocardiogram commonly referred as ECG or EKG; this is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart tissues. This helps in identifying the different problems associated with the functioning of the heart.

How does an electrocardiogram work?

Heart beat is a result of the electric signals being generated from a specialized tissue known as the sino-atrial node (SAN). The electrocardiogram detects these impulses and records the functioning of the heart. The rhythm of the heartbeat, the strength and timing of the electrical signals from the SAN can all be evaluated based on the output received. These signals are either displayed on a small monitor or printed on a graph paper.1

When is an electrocardiogram advised?

An ECG is advised when any abnormality in the functioning of the heart, which is characterized by symptoms such as chest pain, heart pounding or difficulty in breathing.

ECG can detect numerous disorders of the heart such as:

  • Defects in the blood supply to the heart muscles

  • Tachycardia (rapid heart beats) or bradycardia (slow heart beats)

  • Disorder of the heart valves

  • Congenital (birth) defects of the heart1,2


What is the preparation required for an electrocardiogram?

An ECG procedure does not require any preparations prior to the test. The individual is advised to lie down on a bed during the procedure and the electrodes (small patches that record the electrical impulses) are pasted on the chest, arms and legs. The machine then records the electrical activity of the heart, which is displayed on a small screen or printed on a graph. The procedure may take about 15–20 minutes after which the electrodes are taken off.


What are the complications of an electrocardiogram?

There are no known complications of the electrocardiogram procedure. 

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: August 29, 2012

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