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Home > For Patients > Cardiac > Electrocardiogram (ECG OR EKG)

Electrocardiogram (ECG OR EKG)
An electrocardiogram or ECG/EKG is a test that records the pattern of electrical currents generated by the heart with each heartbeat. It is simple and does not hurt. You only need to lie flat for a few minutes.

Patient Preparation
There is no preparation for this test.

To obtain an ECG, 10 thin wires are attached to your chest, arms and legs (6 on the chest, 1 on each limb). The electrical currents recorded by these leads are transmitted back to the ECG machine, and plotted on a special graph (tracing). Different patterns on the graph may show that your heart is not getting enough oxygen, that you have had a heart attack in the past, the heart rhythm has changed or that nothing is abnormal at all. In fact, more than half of all patients with coronary artery disease have normal ECGs. Sometimes, the ECG will only show changes during an angina attack. That's why other diagnostic tests are often necessary.


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