Electrocardiogram

How Should I Prepare for an EKG?

  • Avoid oily or greasy skin creams and lotions the day of the test. They interfere with the electrode-skin contact.
  • Avoid full-length hosiery, because electrodes need to be placed directly on the legs.
  • Wear a shirt that can be easily removed to place the leads on the chest.

What happens during an EKG?

During an EKG, a technician will attach 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. Men may have chest hair shaved to allow a better connection. You will lie flat while the computer creates a picture, on graph paper, of the electrical impulses traveling through your heart. This is called a "resting" EKG. This same test may also be used to monitor your heart during exercise.

It takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test, but the actual recording takes only a few seconds. Your EKG patterns will be kept on file for later comparison with future EKG recordings.

If you have questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

In addition to the standard EKG, your doctor may recommend other specialized EKG tests, including a holter monitor or a signal-averaged electrocardiogram.