Appointments

800.659.7822

Request an Appointment

Questions

800.659.7822

Contact us with Questions

Expand Content

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

ECG is a device used to record on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart. The picture is drawn by a computer from information supplied by the electrodes.

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.
EKG

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.

More Information

Reviewed: 09/13

This information is about testing and procedures and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic.
Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your testing.

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2015 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic

Read the Latest from Our Experts About » cctopics » Heart & Vascular Health
Heart Disorder May No Longer Keep Kids Out of Sports
4/20/15 2:00 p.m.
For kids with a heart rhythm disorder called long Q-T syndrome, or LQTS, sports are not usually an option. That may change soon. A new study finds playing competitive, orga...
by Children's Health Team
Best Ways to Protect Your Heart From Atrial Fibrillation
4/20/15 8:15 a.m.
If you’re over 40 and your heart flutters, there’s a good chance you’re one of the millions who suffer from atr...
Moderate Activity May Be All Your Heart Needs
4/15/15 8:22 a.m.
If you’re a middle-aged woman who didn’t get to the gym every day last week, here’s some good news. Moderate ph...
5 Simple Ways to Make a Healthy Pizza (Infographic)
4/15/15 7:00 a.m.
Maybe nothing’s more American than apple pie. But the pie we Americans really love is topped with tomatoe...
The Best Oil, Fish and Cheese Options for Your Heart
4/14/15 7:00 a.m.
Sometimes it seems like a world of endless food choices. But even for those of us who have settled on a particu...