You may not realize it, but your heart doesn’t run solely on blood and muscle power. It also relies on electrical pulses. Electrical pulses are actually what triggers your heart muscles to contract and move blood throughout your body.
When we suspect you have a heart problem, such as an irregular heartbeat or coronary artery disease, your heart’s electrical activity is one of the first places we look.
And that’s where an electrocardiogram (EKG) comes in. This powerful diagnostic test accurately records your heartbeat’s electrical activity, illuminating any potential heart problems.
Here, Dr. Fahmi Farah, our expert cardiologist at Bentley Heart in Fort Worth, Texas, shows you exactly what to expect from an EKG.
There's not much you need to do to get ready for an EKG, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you show up for your appointment. Avoid using oily or greasy creams or lotions on the day of your EKG. Doing so can keep the electrodes from sticking to your skin.
Wear a shirt that can be easily removed or opened. We also recommend that you don’t wear full-length hosiery because we need to place electrodes directly on your legs.
Other than that, there’s no need to fast or stop taking your regular medications.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about your upcoming EKG, don’t be. The process takes about 5-10 minutes from start to finish, and you won’t feel any pain or discomfort.
When you arrive for your appointment, we have you lie comfortably on an exam table. Then, we place 10 electrodes with adhesive pads on your chest, arms, and legs. This gives us a complete picture of your heartbeat’s electrical activity throughout your body.
We’d like to mention that if you have a hairy chest, we may shave a small section to establish a better connection.
With the electrodes in place, we turn on the monitor and watch your results appear on the computer screen. The computer creates a picture on graph paper of the electrical impulses traveling through your heart. We call this a resting EKG because you’re lying flat on your back. We can also perform an EKG to monitor your heart during exercise, if necessary.
We keep your EKG patterns on file for comparison with future EKG recordings.
The EKG we perform in our office only gives us a snapshot of your heartbeat’s activity, but we may need more data to accurately assess your situation. That’s where Holter monitors come in.
Holter monitors are portable EKGs that continuously monitor the electrical activity of your heart, generally for 48 hours. We use this if we suspect an abnormal heart rhythm, or ischemia, which is a condition that occurs when not enough blood flows to your heart muscles.
Once your test is over, Dr. Farah reviews your result with you and discusses any need for additional testing. EKGs are noninvasive and don’t require any anesthesia, which means you can return to your normal routine immediately after your test — unless, of course, Dr. Farah says otherwise.
Have more questions about your EKG? Don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff at 817-720-5185 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment.