An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that is used by a New Jersey cardiologist to check for problems in the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart’s electrical impulses and displays them as line tracings on paper. Your doctor will then examine the waves (spikes and dips) on the EKG tracings to check on the electrical activity in different areas of your heart.
When is an electrocardiogram performed?
Your New Jersey cardiologist may recommend an EKG if you are reporting symptoms that may be indicative of heart disease. Such symptoms include unexplained chest pain (angina), rapid or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting. EKGs can also be performed to test the effectiveness of medications or a pacemaker, or just as a precaution for patients who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of early heart disease.
If my doctor recommends an EKG, what will it be like?
First, you can relax, because a standard EKG with one of the best heart doctors in New Jersey is non-invasive, poses no risks, and only takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You will probably be asked to remove your shirt or blouse and all jewelry, and will then recline on an examination table while electrodes (small metal discs) are attached to the skin of your chest, using a special paste to hold them in place. If you have a lot of hair on your chest, it may be necessary to shave small areas so the electrodes can directly touch the skin.
Multiple electrodes are required because each one measures the electrical activity in a different area of your heart’s four chambers – the two upper atria and the two lower ventricles. The electrodes are connected to a machine that reads the electrical output from them and translates it into waves on a paper graph. You may be asked to remain very still and breathe normally during the test, and may occasionally be asked to hold your breath. You shouldn’t talk during the test. After the test, your New Jersey heart doctor will examine the EKG tracings to check for any problems.
The procedures above describe a standard resting EKG, the most common type of test we perform in our practice, Cross County Cardiology. If the results from it are inconclusive or you report symptoms that only appear when you are exercising, your doctor may recommend an ambulatory EKG or stress EKG, which is measured while you walk on a treadmill.
How should I prepare for the EKG?
Follow any instructions your doctor gives you with regard to medications you are already taking. If you are having a resting EKG, it is not a good idea to exercise immediately before the test, because that can affect the results. And relax – no electricity will pass to your body through the electrodes, and there is no danger of getting an electrical shock.
After the test, your New Jersey cardiologist will discuss the results with you and, if necessary, schedule additional tests to further diagnose any symptoms you have reported. If you have any questions about this procedure, please feel free to give us a call at 201-299-4479 or go online and we’ll be happy to answer them.