An ECG test is an easy way to get information to diagnose a problem with your heart. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t cause pain, but an electrocardiogram test can tell your healthcare provider if you’ve had a heart attack, heart failure or heart damage. It can also tell them if your heart rhythm isn’t normal or how well your pacemaker is working.

What is an ECG?

An electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) uses temporary electrodes on your chest and limbs to monitor, track and document your heart’s electrical activity (which controls your heartbeats) for diagnostic purposes. A computer translates the information into a wave pattern your healthcare provider can interpret. This is a quick, noninvasive test that doesn’t hurt. You can get an EKG while lying down and resting or while you’re exercising as part of a stress test.

Types of EKG devices
Because a typical EKG tracks your heart’s electrical activity for a very short time, it probably won’t pick up irregularities that only happen once in a while. It’s like when your internet is acting up but seems fine when someone comes to repair it.

To capture these erratic issues, your provider can give you:

How to read an EKG ?

Your own internal pacemaker, your sinoatrial node, starts your heartbeat with an electrical signal. An EKG reads that signal and tracks its impact on your heart as it contracts and relaxes with each heartbeat. Your healthcare provider will look at how much electrical activity there is, how strong it is and how much time passes between the different waves or peaks that represent the electrical impulses.

What is an ECG vs. EKG?

Both terms mean the same thing: an electrocardiogram. EKG comes from the German word, which uses “k” instead of “c” in both parts of the word. However, it’s different from an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound that creates images of your beating heart.

When would an EKG be used?

Your healthcare provider uses an EKG to:

They can also check on how your heart is doing since you:

Symptoms you can diagnose with an EKG

Your provider may give you an EKG test because you have: