EKG (Electrocardiogram, ECG)

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An electrocardiogram is a graphic produced by an electrocardiograph, which records the electrical activity of the heart over time. Its name is made of different parts: electro, because it's related to electronics, cardio, Greek for heart, gram, a Greek root meaning 'to write'. Analysis of the various waves and normal vectors of depolarization and repolarization yields important diagnostic information.

How the Test is Performed

An ECG is a relatively simple test which involves sticking about ten small electrodes on the chest and attaching them to a machine at the bedside. The machine analyses the heart’s electrical signals, picked up through the electrodes on the skin surface. It is a completely painless test but obviously requires temporary exposure of the chest, to allow placement of the leads. The actual reading takes about one minute and a printout with 12 waveforms is produced either at the machine itself, or at a nearby printer. A doctor or experienced and specialised nurse reads and interprets the ECG. Sometimes they will seek additional help from a more senior doctor or a cardiologist – even at a distance via fax. Occasionally the ECG is formally reported by a cardiologist – this is more likely in the routine or non-urgent situation.

Relevant Specialties
Emergency Medicine
Internal Medicine
General Practice
Intensive Care Medicine

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