What to Expect from an EKG

Your heart is the organ responsible for pumping out the blood that travels through your circulatory system and nourishes your tissues and other organs. It contains four chambers — two on the left and two on the right — that coordinate their muscle contractions by way of electrical signals.

An EKG (or ECG), also called an electrocardiogram, is a diagnostic test. The EKG machine doesn’t generate electricity, but rather, it conducts and measures electrical signals within your heart and throughout your circulatory system. The test provides information about your heart’s rate and rhythm, the time it takes the signals to travel from one part of the heart to the next, and whether or not parts of your heart are enlarged or overworked.

At Advanced Cardiac Care, Dr. Michael Avaricio routinely uses EKGs in the office as the first diagnostic test when patients come in with symptoms suggestive of a heart condition. This way he can diagnose problems while it’s still early enough to treat them successfully. Many people, though, don’t know what to expect from an EKG, so he’s put together this guide to put you in the know.

Why/when would I need an EKG test?

Dr. Avaricio may perform an EKG if you have any of the following symptoms:

You may also need this test if you:

Your doctor may also use the EKG to look for inflammation of the heart or its lining, to detect blocked or narrowed coronary arteries, or to identify damage to the heart muscles and valves.

In addition, he may use an EKG to establish baseline measurement of heart activity, or as a routine exam for older adults, who generally have a higher risk of heart disease than younger individuals.

What you can expect during an EKG

An EKG is a simple, noninvasive, and painless exam, and you don’t have to do anything special to prepare for it.

Women change into a hospital gown, and men simplu take off their shirts. Then, the nurse or technician places 10-12 sticky patches (the electrodes that pick up electrical activity) on specific places on your chest, arms, and legs. These have wires connected to a computer that records the information and displays it as a series of waveforms on a monitor or a strip of paper.

You can breathe normally during the test, but you have to lie still and refrain from talking, as movement can distort the test results. A standard EKG takes only a few minutes. After that, you can get dressed and go about your business.

What about results?

Dr. Avaricio may discuss your results with you the same day you have your EKG or, if nothing’s pressing, at your next appointment.

If your electrocardiogram is normal, you won’t need any other tests unless you have undiagnosed symptoms. If the results show some abnormality with your heart, Dr. Avaricio may perform another EKG or other diagnostic tests such as an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart tissue. Any treatment you receive depends on the underlying cause of the results.

If you’re experiencing any troubling symptoms, such as chest pain or arrhythmia, don’t wait to get medical attention until it’s too late to prevent a heart attack or other tissue damage. And make it a point at your annual physical exam to get an EKG so you can have a baseline reading in case any problems develop later.

You can schedule an appointment to get an EKG or a cardiac checkup at Advanced Cardiac Care by calling our office in the Ozone Park area of Queens, New York, at 718-737-9132, or by contacting us online.

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