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Electrocardiogram - ECG

Your doctor uses the ECG to:

  • assess your heart rhythm

  • diagnose poor blood flow to the heart muscle (ischemia)

  • diagnose a heart attack

  • diagnose abnormalities of your heart, such as heart chamber enlargement and abnormal electrical conduction


To prepare

  • Avoid oily or greasy skin creams and lotions the day of the test. They interfere with the electrode-skin contact

  • Avoid full-length hosiery, as electrodes need to be placed directly on the legs.

  • Wear a shirt that can be easily removed to place the leads on the chest.

What to expect

  • During a resting ECG, a technician will attach 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms and legs. Men may have chest hair shaved to allow a better connection. You will lie flat while the computer creates a picture, on graph paper, of the electrical impulses traveling through your heart.

  • It takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test, but the actual recording takes only a few seconds.

  • Your ECG patterns will be kept on file for comparison with future ECG recordings.

  • If you have questions, ask your doctor.

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