What is an electrocardiogram?

Electrocardiogram is a test used to monitor the heart. The test is popularly known as ECG or EKG. It is a painless, noninvasive test. The test is done by recording the electrical signals generated by the special cells in one of the chambers of the heart. Various heart conditions can be diagnosed using electrocardiogram. The patterns of heartbeats and rhythms are analysed by the doctor through an ECG test.

Why is it done?

An electrocardiogram can be suggested for you as a part of diagnosing various heart conditions:

  • Heart arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythm

  • A heart attack

  • Problems of the heart’s valves

  • Defects of the heart

  • Coronary artery disease

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is performed at the hospital by a technician. Usually, 12-15 electrodes will be attached to various parts of the body (chest, legs and arms). The electrodes will help to detect and conduct the electrical signals from the heart. There are different types of ECG, which are used in diagnosing different types of heart problems:

  • Stress test: Heart problems that occur during any physical exercise are diagnosed with a stress test.

  • Holter monitoring: It is also known as ambulatory ECG monitor. It records the heart rhythms for a period of 24 hours.

  • Event recorder: Event recorder can be a bit similar to the Holter monitor. You can record the heart rhythm when the patient experiences symptoms in him/her.

The ECG result will be available on the same day of the test performed. If the doctor finds any problem with the result, he/she may suggest another diagnostic test to confirm the condition. The treatment will also be dependent on the result.