Here at Carthage Area Hospital, we perform several different advanced respiratory tests to evaluate the health of a patient’s heart and lungs as well as to diagnose various heart or lung diseases. One such test that we use is the electrocardiogram.
What is an Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram, which is also referred to as an EKG, is a test that records the electrical activity of a patient’s heart. The test involves placing electrodes, which are small metal disks, onto the skin of the patient. The electrodes are hooked up to wires that lead to an electrocardiogram machine. These electrodes then pick up the electrical impulses of their heart. It’s a painless and easy to perform test.
When recording the heartbeat, the EKG will trace the electrical activity of the heart onto paper. The heartbeat will be represented by waves, which are created by various dips and spikes. Doctors perform EKGs to test for the following:
- To make sure that the heart is beating regularly.
- To identify the reason behind any chest pain or pressure that the patient has complained about.
- To identify the cause of heart disease symptoms that the patient may have complained about, such as dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath or heart palpitations (which are rapid and irregular heartbeats).
- To determine if the walls of the patient’s heart chambers are thicker than they should be.
- To check the health of the heart in patients that have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of smoking or a family history of heart disease.
- To make sure that any mechanical devices implanted in the patient’s heart are working properly (such as pacemakers).
Preparing for Electrocardiograms
There’s not a lot that’s required from a patient to prepare for an electrocardiogram. Unlike other tests, patients don’t have to cease eating foods or drinking liquids for a certain amount of time before the test. However, if you are scheduled for an EKG, make sure that you inform your doctor about all medications that you are on, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Some of these medications can affect the outcome of the test.
The only major thing that you will need to avoid is exercise. Because exercise will affect your heartbeat, you should avoid exercising right before your test. As for taking the EKG, you’ll need to remove all jewelry from your neck, arms and wrists before laying down on the table. You’ll be required to lay as still as possible without moving or talking during the entire test. It should only take five to ten minutes to complete an EKG.
For more information about our electrocardiograms or any of the other respiratory tests that we perform, contact us at Carthage Area Hospital today.