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Also part of the UPMC family:

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

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What is an electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram (ee-lek-tro-CAR-deeoh-gram), also called an EKG or ECG, is a heart test. It makes a recording of the electrical activity of your heart. This electrical activity helps set your heart’s rate and rhythm. An EKG can help the doctor see if you have heart muscle damage or electrical problems in the heart.


Before your EKG

  • The day of your EKG, do not put lotions, oils, or powders on your chest.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before the time of your scheduled test.


During your EKG

  • You will be asked to remove any clothing above the waist. You will be given a hospital gown to wear.
  • You will lie down for this test. Several sticky patches (electrodes) will be placed on your chest, arms, and legs to check the heart rate, rhythm, and electrical activity of your heart. Sometimes, suction electrodes are used instead of the sticky patches.
  • Some male patients may need to have small areas of their chest shaved. This is because hair on the chest will not allow the patches to stick to the skin.
  • The electrodes will be connected to a machine that will record the electrical activity of your heart.
  • You will be asked to lie still, relax, and breathe normally, while the electrodes record information onto a moving strip of paper.
  • You will not feel anything during the recording.
  • This test takes only a few minutes.


After your EKG

  • You may go on with your usual activities.
  • Your doctor will go over your test results with you. Call your doctor’s office in 2 to 3 working days to find out your results.