What is Electrocardiogram?

As natural electrical impulses coordinate contractions of the different parts of the heart to keep blood flowing the way it should, an electrocardiogram records these impulses to show how fast the heart is beating, the rhythm, and the strength and timing as they move through the different parts of the heart. The EGD is a quick, easy way to assess the heart’s function in which small, plastic patches that stick to the skin are placed in certain spots on the chest, arms, and legs. These patches (electrodes) are connected to the ECG machine by lead wires, and after the electrical activity is recorded, the machine will print out the results.

What are the risks of an electrocardiogram?

Risks are minimal and rare. You will not experience any pain, with the exception of the uncomfortable feeling when the patches are taken off. The technician should remove the electrode patches immediately after the results are printed since they may cause tissue breakdown or skin irritation if they are left for too long.

Certain conditions may interfere with or affect the results of the ECG. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ascites
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Size of the chest and the location of the heart
  • Movement during the test
  • Exercise or smoking before the test
  • Certain medications
  • Electrolyte imbalances


There is no special preparation for this procedure other than removing your clothing from the waist up and have the chest shaved and cleaned. Always let your doctor know if you are taking any medications before you have an ECG and if you have any allergies to adhesive tapes that may be used to attach the electrodes.

What happens during an electrocardiogram?

Steps may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
Generally, an ECG follows this process:

  1. Remove jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the test.
  2. Remove clothing from the waist up. The technician will provide coverage with a gown
  3. Lie still on a table or bed for the test without talking during the ECG, as it may alter the tracing.
  4. The technician may shave, as needed
  5. Electrodes will be attached to your chest, arms, and legs.
  6. The electrodes will be attached to lead wires
  7. Once the leads are connected, the technician will enter identifying information about you into the machine’s computer.
  8. The ECG will be started. It will take a short time for the tracing
  9. Once the tracing is completed, the technician will disconnect the leads and remove the skin electrodes

What happens after an electrocardiogram?

Generally, there is no special care after an electrocardiogram. You should be able to go back to your normal activities unless your doctor tells you differently. Let your doctor know if you have any signs or symptoms before the ECG. The doctor may give you other instructions after the test, depending on your condition.

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