An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for changes in the heart while the patient exercises. Sometimes ECG abnormalities can be seen only during exercise or while symptoms are present.
During the test, specialists monitor the heart while the patient exercises on a treadmill or a stationary bicycle. Small disks, called electrodes, are applied to the patient’s chest and are connected to wires called leads. The leads are connected to a monitor that records the electrical activity of the heart. The level of exercise is gradually increased to see how the patient’s heart responds to exercise.
An ECG is done to help find the cause of chest pain or other symptoms, and to determine treatment plans for people with heart problems. Sometimes cardiologists perform the test without exercise. This may involve medication that has the same effect on the heart as exercise.
- Some prior preparation, including no food or fluid for a minimum of 4 hours before the test.
- No food or drink items containing caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola) for at least 12 hours before the test.
- The patient may be advised to stop taking certain medications before the test.
- Physician referral form
- Current medical insurance card
- Driver’s license or other government-issued identification
- Wear comfortable clothing. (Avoid metal straps, buttons, zippers)