What Is an EKG Test?


EKGs (or electrocardiograms) are painless tests which assist your doctor in discovering potential cardiac problems by indicating changes in electrical activity. Test results can indicate a current heart attack or if you have had one in the past.

The Facts

  • EKGs measure how quickly your heart is beating. They also indicate your heartbeat's rhythm as well as the timing and strength of electrical signals passing through your heart.

What Do the Results Mean?

  • The results of your EKG may indicate serious cardiac conditions like arrhythmia, heart failure and myocardial infarction (heart attack). The results may also indicate other conditions which may affect the functioning of your heart.

Preparing for an EKG

  • There is no preparation prior to getting an electrocardiogram. You should let your doctor know about all medications that you are taking (including vitamins) since certain medications will affect your test results.

What to Expect During the Test

  • The test takes approximately 10 minutes and involves several electrodes being attached to the skin on your legs, arms and chest. While you are being monitored, you will need to lie still.

What to Expect After the Test

  • When the test is completed, you will be able to remove the electrodes. You may experience mild skin irritation or rash at the site of the electrodes.


  • There are no serious risks associated with electrocardiograms.

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