The medical field is notorious for its abbreviations. Anyone who has seen a handful of ER or Grey’s Anatomy episodes can sound somewhat convincing to the untrained ear as long as they end their sentence by saying “stat!” But the ability to repeat medical terminology is worlds apart from understanding what it means. Of all the medical abbreviations used in popular media, there are two patients often ask us to explain.

What Is The Difference Between An ECG And An EKG?

What we’re about to share may surprise you. There is no actual difference between the two. Both abbreviations refer to a diagnostic service called the Electrocardiogram. While the word would naturally be abbreviated ECG in English-speaking countries, it’s spelled differently in German. The German spelling Elektro-kardiographie was shortened to EKG, giving medical professionals another option.

Why Do We Say EKG Instead Of ECG?

As it turns out, there is another diagnostic procedure called the electroencephalogram, abbreviated as EEG. EEG and ECG sound and look entirely too similar for comfort, So to avoid confusing the heart and brain scans, many medical professionals opt for the German abbreviation. Chances are good that you didn’t expect to get a language lesson today! Now that you know there isn’t a difference between the ECG and EKG, let’s get down to the essential questions many of you are wondering about.

What Is An EKG?

The Electrocardiogram (EKG) is one of our most common diagnostic services. Using this tool, your cardiologist can record the electric signals produced by your heart. This ubiquitous test can be performed almost anywhere, from your doctor’s office to the back of an ambulance. In fact, some smartwatches use EKG technology to track your heart rate. 

During the test, electrodes placed on the patient’s chest read the electrical signals and display the results on a screen so that the technician can track the strength and regularity of the rhythm. EKGs can diagnose coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart attacks, and more. If you show symptoms of heart distress like chest pain, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations, you will more than likely undergo an EKG. The EKG is a non-invasive and completely pain-free test. If your doctor orders this diagnostic test for you, rest assured the experience is simple and fast.

What Can We Learn From An EKG?

Like any of our other diagnostic services, the EKG is a tool that enables your cardiologist to have a clearer idea of what is happening inside your body without having to undergo invasive surgery. Your heart’s electrical system powers your whole body, and when it doesn’t work correctly, it puts the body at risk. The EKG gives your doctor specific information about your heart so that they can provide you with the best treatment for your condition.

Why Do I Need An EKG?

The only person who can speak directly to your medical needs is the doctor treating you. However, there are some common scenarios in which an EKG is necessary. If your family has a history or current diagnosis of heart disease or you have had a heart attack in the past, your doctor may periodically order an EKG to monitor your cardiac health over time. If you have a pacemaker, your doctor may order an EKG to monitor how well the device works to maintain a strong and regular heartbeat. If you’ve been prescribed a heart medication, an EKG can give your doctor an idea of the effectiveness of that medication. If you have specific questions about why your doctor has ordered this or any of our other diagnostic services, ask them.

When people think of cardiovascular care, they think of the big dramatic surgeries, but often it’s the non-invasive diagnostic services that give patients and their doctors valuable information that helps them stay healthier longer. Call our office today for more information about our services.