Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

What is an Electrocardiogram?

An electrocardiogram, abbreviated as EKG or ECG, measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse (or “wave”) travels through the heart. This causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal ECG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers.

What is its purpose?

An ECG gives two kinds of information:

  • By measuring ECG time intervals, a doctor can properly determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal or irregular.
  • The ECG measures the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle. From looking at this, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked.

Learn more about the electrocardiogram.

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