EKG/ECG (Electrocardiogram)


What is an EKG/ECG and what does it do?

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is done to:
  • Check the heart's electrical activity.
  • Find the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
  • Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
  • Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
  • Check how well medicines are working and whether they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
  • Check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart, such as pacemakers, are working to control a normal heartbeat.
  • Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, or a family history of early heart disease.

Who performs the test?

The test is performed by a licensed Respiratory Therapist.

Where does it take place?

At Jackson Hospital in the Respiratory Department

How long does it take?

About 15 minutes

What you can do to make it a success?

Please be sure to bring your doctor’s orders with you the day of your test. Allow 15 minutes to register.

What to do before your exam?

There are no special dietary restrictions for this study.
Please do not wear lotions or any other oily substance on your chest, abdomen or legs the day of the test.

What happens during your exam?

  • You will lie on a bed or table. Areas on your arms, legs, and chest where small metal discs (electrodes) will be placed are cleaned and may be shaved to provide a clean, smooth surface to attach the electrode discs. A special EKG paste or small pads soaked in alcohol may be placed between the electrodes and your skin to improve conduction of the electrical impulses, but in many cases disposable electrodes are used that do not require paste or alcohol.
  • Several electrodes are attached to the skin on each arm and leg and on your chest. These are hooked to a machine that traces your heart activity onto a paper. After the procedure, the electrode paste is wiped off.
  • You will be asked to lie very still and breathe normally during the test. Sometimes you may be asked to hold your breath. You should not talk during the test.

What to do after your exam?

You may resume normal activity after your study. Your test will be reviewed and interpreted by a physician. Your physician should have the results of your study in 24-48 hours.

Contact Information:

Hospital (main operator): (850) 526-2200
Respiratory Department (850) 718-2545