An electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to monitor your heart. Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse normally generated from special cells in the upper right chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart.
An ECG is a noninvasive, painless test with quick results.
- Irregularities in your heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
- If blocked or narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) are causing chest pain or a heart attack
- Structural problems with your heart’s chambers
- A previous heart attack
- How well ongoing heart disease treatment, such as a pacemaker, is working
- If you have a family history of heart disease, your doctor may suggest an electrocardiogram as an early screening test, even if you have no symptoms.
An electrocardiogram is a safe procedure. You may have minor discomfort, similar to removing a bandage, when the electrodes taped to your chest to measure your heart’s electrical signals are removed. Rarely, a reaction to the electrode tape may cause redness or swelling of your skin.
It usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete the test.