An electrocardiogram, also called an EKG or ECG, is a simple, painless test that records the heart’s electrical activity. The heart’s electrical signals set the rhythm of the heartbeat. An EKG shows:
- How fast your heart is beating
- Whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular
- The strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of your heart
What to Expect
A nurse or technician will attach soft, sticky patches called electrodes to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. The patches are about the size of a quarter. Often, 12 patches are attached to your body. This helps detect your heart’s electrical activity from many areas at the same time. The nurse may have to shave areas of your skin to help the patches stick.
After the patches are placed on your skin, you’ll lie still on a table while the patches detect your heart’s electrical signals. A machine will record these signals on graph paper or display them on a screen. The entire test will take about 10 minutes.