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Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) at UPMC in Central Pa.

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a simple and fast outpatient diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the electrical system of the heart.

What is an electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a simple and fast outpatient diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the electrical system of the heart.

What happens during an EKG?

Electrodes (small, plastic patches) are placed at certain locations on the chest, arms and legs. When the electrodes are connected to an ECG machine by lead wires, the electrical activity of the heart is measured, interpreted and printed out for the doctor's information and further interpretation.

What does an EKG measure?

The heart is, in the simplest terms, a pump made up of muscle tissue. The heart's pumping action is regulated by an electrical conduction system that coordinates the contraction of the various chambers of the heart.

This electrical activity of the heart is measured by an electrocardiogram. By placing electrodes at specific locations on the body (chest, arms, and legs), a graphic representation, or tracing, of the electrical activity can be obtained. Changes in an ECG from the normal tracing may indicate one or more of several heart-related conditions.

When the doctor views an ECG, he or she studies the size and length of each part of the ECG. Variations in size and length of the different parts of the tracing may be significant.

Reasons for the Procedure

Some reasons for your doctor to request an outpatient ECG include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • To determine the cause of chest pain
  • To evaluate other signs and symptoms which may be heart-related, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting
  • To identify irregular heartbeats
  • To determine the status of the heart prior to procedures such as surgery and/or after treatment for conditions such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI), endocarditis (inflammation or infection of one or more of the heart valves), or after procedures such as heart surgery or cardiac catheterization
  • To assess the function of an implanted pacemaker
  • To determine the effectiveness of certain heart medications
  • To obtain a baseline tracing of the heart's function during a physical examination that may be used as a comparison with future ECGs, to determine if any changes have occurred

There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend an ECG.

How can I get an EKG?

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers EKG services at all of our office locations with a prescription and an advance appointment. Please call our office to schedule a time for your EKG.

If you would prefer to walk-in for an EKG at your convenience, please visit our pre-admission testing page for locations near you.

Risks of the Procedure

An ECG is a quick, noninvasive method of assessing the heart's function. Risks associated with ECG are minimal and rare.

Before the Procedure

  • Your doctor or the technician will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
  • Generally, fasting is not required before the test.
  • Notify your doctor of all medications (prescribed and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.
  • Notify your doctor if you have a pacemaker.
  • Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparation.

During the Procedure

An ECG may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices. Generally, an ECG follows this process:

  • You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure.
  • You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up. The technician will ensure your privacy by covering you with a sheet or gown and exposing only the necessary skin.
  • You will lie flat on a table or bed for the procedure. It will be important for you to lie still and not talk during the procedure, so as not to interfere with the tracing.
  • If your chest, arms, or legs are very hairy, the technician may shave or clip small patches of hair, as needed, so that the electrodes will stick closely to the skin.
  • Electrodes will be attached to your chest, arms, and legs.
  • The lead wires will be attached to the skin electrodes.
  • Once the leads are attached, the technician may key in identifying information about you into the machine's computer.
  • The ECG will be started. It will take only a short time for the tracing to be completed.
  • Once the tracing is completed, the technician will disconnect the leads and remove the skin electrodes.

After the Procedure

You should be able to resume your normal diet and activities, unless your doctor instructs you differently.

Generally, there is no special care following an ECG.

Notify your doctor if you develop any signs or symptoms you had prior to the test (for example, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting).

Need more information?

Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Practices
Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Pediatric : 717-761-0200
Hanover: 717-637-1738
York: 717-849-5576
Lancaster/Lititz: 717-299-5000
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery: 717-231-8555

Request Information

Locations

Cardiovascular Diagnostic Services
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
2201 Brunswick Drive
2100
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-316-2195
Fax: 717-316-2242

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Lebanon Valley Advanced Care Center
1251 East Main Street
Suite 3
Annville, PA 17003

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
360 Alexander Spring Road
Carlisle, PA 17013

Adult Cardiology: 717-243-6557
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-243-0102 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
900 Century Drive
Suite 100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Phone: 717-591-3660 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-591-3661

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Professional Center of Newport
300 Bretz Court
Newport, PA 17074

Phone: 717-567-7246 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-567-2621 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
2808 Old Post Road
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Adult Cardiology: 717-920-4400
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-920-4401

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
12 Saint Paul Drive
Suite 205
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Adult Cardiology: 717-217-6881
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-217-6889

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Commerce Park Professional Center
20 Expedition Trail
Suite 203
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
2201 Brunswick Drive
2200
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Office Building
310 Stock Street
Suite 3
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
16324 Mount Airy Road
Lower Level
Shrewsbury, PA 17361

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1600 6th Avenue
Suite 105
York, PA 17403

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 100
Lititz, PA 17543

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (formerly Cardiac Consultants)
1697 Crown Avenue
Suite 100
Lancaster, PA 17601

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205

UPMC Imaging & Lab Services
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
1160 Manheim Pike
Suite 101
Lancaster, PA 17601

Phone: 717-869-4687
Fax: 717-869-4688

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