An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a simple, painless test that records the heart’s electrical activity. With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As it travels, the signal causes the heart to contract and pump blood. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. The heart’s electrical signals set the rhythm of the heartbeat.
EKGs are used to detect and study many heart problems, such as heart attacks, arrhythmias and heart failure. The test’s results also can suggest other disorders that affect heart function.
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
An EKG test is most appropriate for individuals seeking preventative health or who are at risk for heart disease based on the cardiovascular risk factors:
- Chest pain
- Heart pounding, racing, or fluttering, or the sense that your heart is beating unevenly
- Breathing problems
- Tiredness and weakness
- Unusual heart sounds when your doctor listens to your heartbeat
- Family history of heart disease and/or stroke
As part of a routine health exam, EKG can screen for early heart disease that has no symptoms or so your physician can check how well heart medicine or a medical device, (such as a pacemaker) is working.
An EKG is provided as part of our Elite Health Evaluation.