What is an electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram is a recording of your heart’s electrical activity.  It is sometimes referred to as an ECG or an EKG.  It tells your doctor many things about your heart including the heart rate and rhythm.  It may also tell your doctor if you have had a previous heart attack.  Electrocardiograms are often used in the emergency room to determine if a patient’s chest pain is being caused by a myocardial infarction.

How is an electrocardiogram performed?

An electrocardiogram is performed by having the patient lying flat on an examination table.  Six adhesive electrodes are placed across the patient’s chest and one on each of the patient’s four limbs.  These adhesive electrodes are connected to wires that then record the patient’s electrical activity.  This recording takes only a few seconds and then the electrodes and wires are removed.

Are there any potential complications of having an electrocardiogram?

This is one of the safest tests that can be performed to evaluate a patient’s heart.  It is possible that the skin electrodes could irritate a patient’s skin but this is very uncommon with an electrocardiogram.

Are there any restrictions following an electrocardiogram?

There are no restrictions following an electrocardiogram.