EKG Test: What to Expect

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EKG Test: What to ExpectAn EKG test (electrocardiogram) is used to test for signs of heart problems. The test is painless and quick, and usually conducted by a certified EKG technician. The technician places small electrode patches, or “leads,” on the skin of the patient’s arms, legs, and chest. The results can allow a doctor to:

  • Diagnose a heart attack or heart disease
  • Check on abnormalities, such as thick heart muscles
  • Check your heart rhythm
  • Check for poor blood flow.

Preparing for an EKG Test

EKG tests are generally very straightforward, fast, and painless. But, if you are planning to have a test done, here are few things you can do to help make the process smoother:

  • Wear clothing that you can remove easily. This will help the EKG technician place the leads on your chest, arms, and legs.
  • Avoid greasy or oily skin creams before having an EKG test. The cream/lotion can prevent the electrode from making good contact with the skin. This could effect the quality of the reading.
  • Avoid full-length hosiery (stockings, pantyhose, etc.). Electrodes need to be placed directly on the legs.

What happens during an EKG test?

EKG Test while exercising

EKG Test while exercising

An EKG technician will attach approximately 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to your skin. Men may need to shave their chest in order to have a good connection.

You will be asked to sit back or lie down while a computer creates a picture of the electrical impulses as they move through your heart. This is often called a “resting EKG test.” Some tests may require you to exercise while you take the test.

How long does an EKG test take?

For a seasoned EKG technician, it only takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test. The actual recording of the electrical impulses only takes a few seconds! Test results are often kept in the patient’s medical record and used as a comparison for future tests.