Not Medical Advice: An electrocardiogram or EKG recordings can help doctors diagnose heart attacks that are in progress or have happened in the past. An EKG also can show:
- Lack of blood flow to the heart muscle (coronary heart disease)
- A heartbeat that's too slow, too fast, or irregular (arrhythmia)
- A heart that does not pump forcefully enough (heart failure)
- Heart muscle that's too thick or parts of the heart that are too big (cardiomyopathy)
- Birth defects in the heart (congenital heart defects)
- Problems with the heart valves (heart valve disease)
- Inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericarditis)
An EKG can tell whether the heartbeat starts in the correct place in the heart. The test also displays how long it takes for electrical signals to travel through the heart. Delays in signal travel time may suggest long QT syndrome or heart block.
An electrocardiogram has no serious risks. It's a painless, harmless test that detects the heart's electrical activity. EKGs do not give off electrical charges, such as shocks. You might develop a mild rash where the electrodes (soft patches) were attached. This rash usually goes away without treatment.
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