Reading time: 2 min

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG or EKG, is a non-invasive scan that allows the heart’s electrical activity to be studied at a given time. The goal of this test is to find out the heartbeat frequency, the type of rhythm, and the morphology of the heart’s electrical waves.

What is it?

This test indicates the morphology of the heart's electrical activity at a given time. To determine this, electrodes are placed on the chest and extremities. The electrodes have a kind of sticker with the lower part covered with gel and a small metallic upper area for connecting them to the EKG machine. These electrodes are arranged in a specific way: 6 are placed along the left side of the chest and 4 others are put at the ends, or beginnings, of the arms and legs. A cable then connects these electrodes to a device that translates the detected electrical activity into a 12-lead recording. This record can be saved in digital format or printed on paper.  

How is it done?

The EKG is usually performed while you are lying on your back on a stretcher. The chest must be exposed so that the pectoral electrodes can be put in place. Often, the extremity electrodes are placed directly onto the wrists and ankles, so these must also be uncovered. After the electrodes have been attached, the cables are connected and the recording is carried out, which is usually quick (less than a minute). You have to keep still to avoid any changes during the recording. Once the recording is complete, the cables are disconnected and the electrodes removed.

What complications could there be?

Complications are extremely rare; skin irritation occurs only in those people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the electrode material. 

How do you prepare yourself?

You do not need to take any special measures before the test. The only recommendation is to wear clothing where the top part is easy to remove or open. 

Substantiated information by:

Laura Sanchís Ruiz

Published: 9 February 2021
Updated: 9 February 2021


Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.