Overlake offers comprehensive diagnostic testing of your heart’s electrical activity. This testing includes electrocardiograms (ECGs/EKGs). Whether you need a test to aid a diagnosis or you’re in an emergency situation, our team has the expertise to get fast, accurate results.
What is an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)?
An electrocardiogram is a quick, painless way to check your heart’s electrical activity. With every heartbeat, an electrical signal travels through the heart. This signal or impulse causes your heart muscle to squeeze and pump blood. An ECG (also known as EKG) monitors these signals via electrodes (small, sticky patches) placed on your chest, arms and legs. Wires connect the electrodes to an ECG machine, which captures information about your heart and heartbeat in a graph.
What is the purpose of an ECG?
Our heart specialists use ECGs to evaluate and diagnose heart problems like:
- Arrhythmia conditions (a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow or irregular).
- Chest pain.
- Coronary artery disease or blocked arteries.
- Heart attacks and damage to heart muscle.
- Heart failure.
- Heart muscle diseases, like cardiomyopathy.
An ECG also provides a baseline measure of heart function before the start of cancer treatments, before you begin taking certain heart medicines or prior to getting a heart rhythm device (arrhythmia treatment). After treatments, it can assess the effectiveness of therapies and identify changes to heart muscle.
What are the types of ECGs?
At Overlake, we use the latest technology to perform all types of ECGs, including:
- Resting ECG: You lie on your back during the test.
- Stress ECG: The test takes place while you exercise slowly on a treadmill or stationary bike.
- Ambulatory ECG (heart monitor): You wear a lightweight ECG patch over the heart for up to two weeks while going about your daily activities.
What are the benefits of an ECG?
An ECG can quickly show heart damage and signs of heart disease. Benefits of an ECG include:
- Fast evaluation of heart function.
- Noninvasive, painless procedure.
- Doesn’t require sedation.
- No radiation exposure.
- No need for IV contrast dyes or agents that can cause allergic reactions .
What are the risks of an ECG?
There are no known risks to getting an ECG. It’s a very safe test that checks your heart’s electrical activity. It doesn’t send an electrical charge through your body.
If you’re getting a stress ECG, our care team closely monitors your heart while you safely engage in physical activity.
What should you expect when getting an ECG?
The steps for an ECG vary depending on which test your doctor orders. A resting ECG usually takes less than 15 minutes, while an exercise ECG may take 30 minutes or longer. Our care team is with you throughout testing should you experience discomfort or have questions.
What should you expect before an ECG?
Follow your doctor’s instructions about eating, drinking, smoking and taking medications before an ECG. You may be asked to not apply lotion on the day of the test. In general:
- You can eat and drink as usual before a resting ECG. You shouldn’t smoke the day of the test.
- You shouldn’t eat, smoke, drink anything except water or have caffeine for a specified amount of time before a stress ECG.
- With an ambulatory ECG, you will go about your daily activities as usual.
What should you expect during an ECG?
During an ECG:
- A technologist places the ECG electrodes on your chest, arms and/or legs. A sticky adhesive holds the electrodes in place. The technologist may shave a male’s chest before placing the electrodes.
- The technologist attaches the lead wires from the ECG machine to the electrodes.
- You lie still (or exercise for a stress ECG) while the ECG machine records your heart’s electrical activity.
What should you expect after an ECG?
You can drive yourself home and resume normal activities after an ECG. We’ll send the test results to your doctor typically within two business days. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor to go over the results. If you need the test for an emergency situation, we get the results immediately. Your test results are also available in MyChart.