Electrocardiography (ECG)

This lab is the initial contact point for noninvasive diagnostic testing of the heart. The heart beats 60 – 80 times per minute, on average, and continues without stopping for a person’s lifetime. The heart consists of electrical cells and mechanical cells. The electrical cells are responsible for impulse formation and conduction whereas the mechanical cells are responsible for muscular contraction. The electrical activity of the heart is transmitted to the surface of the body where it can be picked up by electrodes and recorded on an electrocardiograph (ECG).

During an ECG, a trained technician will place an electrode (small sticky pads) on each of the patient’s arms and legs. An additional six electrodes will be placed in specific locations on the chest. These electrodes are connected by cable to a recording device that will record the heart’s electrical activity. The EKG takes less than five minutes from beginning to end. The electrical wave forms generated are then reviewed by a cardiologist and the results, in conjunction with the patient’s history, signs and symptoms will guide the physician in planning the patient’s further testing.