Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
What is an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) records the electrical activity of the heart. Sometimes this test is called an EKG.
Why is an ECG done?
The test is used to check if the heart rate and rhythm are normal. An ECG also helps doctors see if your child has certain heart problems, including:
- A heart that is larger than normal (heart enlargement)
- An electrolyte imbalance
- Pericarditis and other injuries to the heart
- Electrical abnormalities such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome or long QT syndrome
Also, an ECG is used to check the heart before and after heart surgery or a cardiac catheterization procedure.
It can also be used to check a pacemaker or the effects of certain heart medicines.
How does an ECG work?
An ECG is a noninvasive test. A nurse or technician places wires (electrodes) on your child’s arms, legs and chest with stickers. The electrodes pick up tiny electrical signals from the heart and send them to a computer. The computer prints the information on paper for a doctor to interpret.
The ECG lets the doctor “see” the heart's electrical activity from many viewpoints at the same time. The results look like a group of wavy lines. Each of the waves on the ECG tells the doctor about the electrical activity in a different part of the heart. This can help doctors diagnose heart conditions, including an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
What happens during an ECG?
Your child will lie down on a table. A nurse or technician will attach up to 13 electrodes to your child’s chest with stickers. These electrodes will record the electrical signals from the heart.
How long does an ECG take?
An ECG takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
When will we get the results of the ECG?
If your child’s ECG is done as part of a clinic visit, we will give the results to you during that visit. Otherwise, results take 48 to 72 hours; we will fax them to the provider who requested the ECG.
Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2515 for a referral, a second opinion or more information.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.
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