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An EKG, also referred to as an ECG, is an electrocardiogram, a measurement of the heart’s natural electrical activity. It is sometimes confused with an echocardiogram. Unlike the echocardiogram, which creates a visual representation of your heart using sound waves, an EKG specifically measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat of your heart, an electrical wave passes through the heart muscle causing it to contract and pump blood. An EKG or ECG measures the timing of this activity in the top and lower heart chambers.
What does an EKG show?
There are two kinds of information an electrocardiogram reveals. One is the length of time the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. If the waves pass too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly, it may indicate a problem.
The second measurement is the amount of electrical activity that passes through the heart muscle. This helps a doctor or medical examiner determine whether the heart may be too large or overworked in some way.
A normal EKG generally indicates that your heart is functioning normally and suggests your problem may lie elsewhere. An abnormal EKG or ECG can mean many things. Sometimes these abnormalities are simply a normal variation of your heart rhythm. Other times, they can signal an imminent heart attack. There are also a number of possibilities between these two extremes.
The FastMed providers are specifically trained to recognize the variations in images of an EKG or ECG, as well as any abnormalities they may suggest. The images or tracings can then be used to determine the best course of treatment.
Why get an EKG?
If your medical provider recommends that you should have an EKG test performed, it is likely because there is a suspected problem with the electrical activity of your heart. If you’ve complained of chest pain or palpitations, for example, your FastMed provider will want to check for symptoms of heart disease, particularly if you show additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting.
Other reasons for an EKG include checking the thickness of the heart wall chambers or verifying whether certain medications are either working or causing possible side effects. If you have a pacemaker or other implant, an EKG may help to determine if they are functioning correctly.