An electrocardiogram (EKG), also known as an ECG, is a test that is done to assess the heart function through the electrical impulses generated throughout the heart’s rhythmic contractions. An EKG illustrates the presence of slow heart rate, fast heart beat, irregular heartbeat, missed beats, areas of improper functioning, electromechanical dissociation, as well as other acute and chronic disturbances to proper functioning.
The EKG test can be performed even in a mobile unit because most of the machines are rather small and therefore portable. It consists of several electrodes that are attached to the patient’s body and a machine proper that contains several buttons and a place to obtain a printout. In certain machines, there is a display that gives a digital pattern related to the hearts function as well.
Before the procedure, the patient is asked to take off any jewelery that is present on the ankles, neck and wrist. Furthermore, the person is asked to take off the clothing on the upper body. Before the procedure, the areas to which the electrodes are attached would be shaved for smooth attachment of the said electrodes.
The procedure is performed as the patient is lying down on a bed and during the procedure the patient is asked to breathe normally and to abstain from talking or moving.
The electrodes are placed on both ankles and wrists along with six electrodes being placed on different parts of the chest that are predetermined locations. Before attaching the electrodes, a gel or a paste would be applied and in certain instances disposable electrodes can be used, thus avoiding the necessity of applying pastes or other gels.
Once the procedure starts, the machine is able to detect electric impulses from the leads or the electrodes and it prints the receiving signals on a strip of paper. The detection of the signals is done automatically through the machine and it will jump from one electrode to another or the duration at each node can be controlled by the person performing the test.
In relatively older machines the electrodes in the chest may have to be changed from one place to the other after obtaining the trace related to a specific location.
Following obtaining the EKG strip, the electrodes are removed and the paste or gels, if present, is wiped off.