Electrocardiogram (ECG)

What is an Electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An ECG translates the heart’s electrical activity into line tracings on paper, so that a physician can interpret the results.

Reasons for the Test

  • Check the heart’s electrical activity.
  • Determine the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the heart, or angina.
  • Find the cause of your symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or rapid irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
  • Determine if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
  • Determine if you have had a heart attack in the past.
  • Help predict if there are any blockages in your arteries.
  • Monitor changes in your heart rhythm.

How To Prepare

You can eat and perform your activities of daily living before the test however please do not consume any caffeine 4 hours prior to your test (no tea, coffee, decaffeinated products, chocolate, soda pop or medications containing caffeine).

How It Is Done

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is done by a technician, and the resulting ECG is interpreted by a doctor, such as an internist, family physician, cardiologist, or surgeon. You may receive an ECG as part of a physical examination at your health professional’s office or during a series of tests at a hospital or clinic.