An ECG, also known as EKG or electrocardiography is a painless test which helps to diagnose various heart problems. This non-invasive test can be used for people across all age range. ECG graphically measures the electrical activity of a person’s heart with the help of a device called electrocardiograph. The graphical record so produced called the electrocardiogram, appears as line tracings on paper. It is commonly called the ECG report. The spikes and dips of the tracings are called waves of the electrical activity.
What is the Procedure of ECG & How Long Does it Take to Do an ECG?
The duration of the ECG test is between five to ten minutes. The process of ECG is quite quick and safe which can be done at a clinic or hospital. An ECG test is always conducted by a professional nurse or a technician.
- In a conventional ECG test, at first, the patient is asked to lie on a table, present in the ECG room, facing upward in a supine position.
- Electrodes are attached to the skin surface of the patient, to record the heart’s electrical activity, depending on the type of ECG test to be conducted.
- The skin area is cleaned, and excess hair is removed, if necessary, before attaching the electrodes to the skin surface so that the placement of the electrodes is secured.
- In general, a technician then attaches 10 soft electrodes on the patient’s limbs and on the surface of the chest with the help of a conductive gel. The electrodes so attached to the patient’s skin are connected by wires to the ECG machine.
- Since the process is completely harmless, the patient is asked to relax and breathe normally.
- The electrocardiograph (ECG machine) is then activated. As the machine records the heart’s electrical activity, the patient needs to lie as still as possible and breathe normally.
- The impulses are recorded in the paper called the ECG report. After the completion of this, the electrodes are removed and the test is over.
Normally, the machine records the electrical information as line tracing into a report in ten seconds. The entire ECG procedure takes about ten minutes in total. Thus, ECG test is a speedy yet hassle-free method to diagnose heart problems.
The results of the ECG test can be informed to the patient by the doctor, on the same day it is performed or on the next appointment. The results are read by the doctor looking at the pattern of electrical activity in the report.
When to Go For an ECG?
Recommendations to go for an ECG test are always made by the doctor if episodes of the following symptoms are experienced by the patient:
- Shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting and feeling of irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
- Sudden pain in the chest.
- Feeling of tiredness or weakness with a family history of heart disease.
- Incidents of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and cigarette smoking.
- If mechanical devices (pacemakers) are implanted in the heart, ECG is recommended to check its functioning.
What to Keep In Mind While Undergoing ECG?
As mentioned earlier, an ECG test is a completely harmless test. There is no danger of electric shock, as no electricity passes through the patient’s body. The electrodes just transfer the activity of the heart as line tracings on paper.
- All pieces of jewelry from neck arms and wrist should be removed prior to the ECG test.
- The electrodes, when attached with the conductive gel, may give a cooling sensation on the patient’s chest. When the electrodes are taken off, the patient may feel a slight pull on their skin.
- The patient can resume normal activities after the ECG test.