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Reasons for Test
- Diagnose heart attacks and rhythm problems
- Offer clues about other heart conditions and conditions not primarily related to the heart
- Detect conditions that alter the body’s balance of electrolytes (such as potassium and magnesium)
- Detect other problems, such as overdoses of certain drugs
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations (fast heartbeats)
- Nausea or the feeling that you have to vomit
- Abdominal pain
- History of fainting
- Taking certain drugs
- Are about to have surgery with general anesthesia—to detect heart conditions that could worsen during surgery and put you at risk
- Are in occupations that stress the heart or where public safety is a concern
- Are an older adult or have diabetes—to obtain a record to compare with future ECGs
- Already have heart disease—to check occasionally for any changes
- Have had a heart-related procedure, such as getting a pacemaker
What to Expect
Prior to Test
- Have a physical exam and be asked about your medical history
- Have your chest shaved if needed
Description of Test
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Call Your Doctor
American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org
American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org
Heart Rhythm Society http://www.hrsonline.org
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca
Diagnostic tests: electrocardiogram. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed June 11, 2008.
Electrocardiogram. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/electrocardiogram/HB00014. Updated June 2006. Accessed June 11, 2008.
Electrocardiogram. University of Michigan website. Available at: http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/aha%5Felecgram%5Fcar.htm. Updated April 2006. Accessed November 15, 2006.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3005172. Updated March 2008. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Exercise electrocardiogram (stress test). Heart and Stroke Foundation website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu. Updated September 2006. Accessed June 4, 2008.
Kasper DL, Braunwald, E, Fauci AS, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 16 ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional; 2004.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -