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Diagnostic Tests in Cardiovascular Diseases

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Figure 1Electrodes placed on the patient's chest and limbs to obtain the ECG

1. Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)

What is an EKG?

An electrocardiogram, EKG is a recording of the electrical activity that is generated by the heart on the surface of the body by an electrocardiograph. During the test the patient will be lying supine on an examination table. Electrodes are placed on the pre-specified location on the chest wall as well as the four limbs. The test lasts three to five minutes and does not require any special preparation. The patient must not apply any cream or lotions on their chest prior to the EKG.

What is an EKG used for?

EKG is most useful in detecting electrical conduction abnormalities, arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm), hypertrophy (thickening) of heart muscle, congenital heart diseases, as well as presence of active coronary ischemia with lack of blood supply to the heart or history of myocardial infarction with permanent heart muscle damage. This test is often repeated over time to follow the progress of the condition and treatment.