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|Electrocardiogram Cost Average||$430 - $1,150||Free Quote|
Electrocardiogram (EKG) Introduction
The electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a noninvasive test that is used to detect underlying heart conditions by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. An EKG is used to determine if there is damage to the heart, if the heart is beating normally, how fast it is beating, the effects of drugs or devices used to control the heart (such as a pacemaker), along with determining the size and position of the heart chambers. The physician may order this test if the patient experiences chest pain, other symptoms or as part of a routine exam in patients over the age of 40. The EKG is a static picture and may not reflect severe underlying heart problems at a time when the patient is not having any symptoms. Other tests that may be alternatives to an EKG or may be used in conjunction with an EKG include an echocardiogram (a sonogram of the heart's pumping action) and a stress test—an EKG that is done in conjunction with treadmill or other supervised exercise to observe the heart's function under stress—may also be performed.
EKG Procedure Patient Preparation
Be sure to inform the physician of all medications being taken, as some can interfere with the test results. Exercising or drinking cold water immediately before an EKG may effect the test results. Unless you are told otherwise, you may follow your regular daily routine and take medications as usual. If a stress test is to be performed, patients are asked not to eat for several hours before the test.
What to expect during and after an EKG
You will be asked to lie down on a table. The healthcare provider will clean several areas on your arms, legs and chest and then attach small patches called electrodes to the areas. It may be necessary to shave or clip some hair so the electrodes have good contact with the skin. The number of electrodes may vary. A small amount of gel is applied to the skin, which allows the electrical impulses of the heart to be more easily transmitted to the EKG leads. An EKG takes about five minutes and is painless. No electricity passes through the body. The electrodes may feel cold when first applied. You need to remain still and you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods during the test. It is important to be relaxed and relatively warm during the procedure, since any movements including shivering can alter the test results. If the EKG is a stress test, you will be exercising or under minimal physical stress to allow monitoring of changes in the heart. In some cases, the areas where the electrodes were applied may become irritated afterward. To avoid skin irritation, thoroughly clean the gel from the electrode sites after removal of the electrodes.