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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What do I need to know about an electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram is a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. It is also called an EKG or ECG. It is used to show your heart rate and rhythm. An EKG also shows how well your heart is working. It may also help your healthcare provider diagnose heart problems such as a heart attack.

What will happen during an EKG?

  • Your healthcare provider will place several patches, called electrodes, on your chest, arms, or legs. He or she may need to clean a small area of skin if the patches will not stick. Tell your healthcare provider if you have an allergy to adhesives. Your healthcare provider will attach a wire to each patch. The wires are connected to a monitor that will display the electrical activity of your heart. Lie still, and do not talk while the test is being done.
  • If you are in the hospital, your healthcare provider may want to monitor your heart continually. Some, or all, of the patches may be left on your chest. He or she may also do an EKG when you are resting, then again after you exercise or take medicine to stress your heart.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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