What is an Electrocardiogram or EKG?
An EKG is a non-invasive test that records electrical activity of the heart. This electrical energy is due to the impulses that run through the heart determining the heart's rate and rhythm. 10 electrodes are placed on the arms, legs (or lower torso) and around the chest wall. The test is painless; there is no "electricity" involved. The test takes an average of 5 minutes to perform.
Why are EKG's Required?
EKG's help the physician evaluate the patient's cardiac conditioning regarding:
- A possible heart attack
- What part of the heart was involved
- How much damage was done to the heart muscle
- If there are any irregular rhythms or beats
- If the blood or oxygen supply to the heart has been diminished
- The patient is having surgery and has not had a recent EKG in the past 12 months
What is Involved in Preparation?
No preparation is really involved, such as any restrictions on food, drink or medications before the test. The only possible request if coming in for testing would be:
- Skin free of any dirt, lotions, oils or powders on the chest wall area
- If the test is called for in an emergency situation, we can take measures to clean the area of any of the above mentioned
What is Expected Once I Arrive For the EKG?
- Although there is no appointment necessary for an EKG, you will need to have a physician's order.
- Once you arrive for the EKG, a Respiratory Therapist will escort you to a special room where the EKG's are performed.
- The Therapist will enter your information into the EKG machine then ask you to either remove your clothing from the waist up, or simply lift up your shirt. Ladies will unhook their bra, also.
- If a gentleman has quite a bit of chest hair, this may need to be shaved to allow the electrodes to stick properly.
- The sites may need to be wiped off with an alcohol wipe to remove any dirt, oils, powder, lotion, etc. from the skin, which also can keep the electrodes from sticking.
- Once the electrodes are in place and all your information is entered into the machine, you simply need to lie still and the test should take no more than 20-30 seconds to print out.
Although the test can be done on a "walk-in" basis, it does need to be ordered by a physician. Then simply go to the registration desk in the main entrance of the hospital or the registration desk between Lab and Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics and they can call or page us.
When Will I Know the Results of the EKG?
If your EKG is ordered for surgery to be done right away, we will have it read immediately and brought to surgery. If the EKG is for diagnostic purposes or you are to have surgery in the near future, we will have it read by the next day.