If you’ve ever been in cardiac care or seen Grey’s Anatomy on tv, you’ve probably heard of a test called the electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG). The electrocardiogram is a community used diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of the heart including the rhythm, can test for pooling blood also known as ischemia, and can diagnose a heart attack. As an often mentioned test, the ECG still leaves some people with these frequently asked questions.
ECG Versus EKG
A very commonly asked question is: what is the difference between ECG and EKG. And the answer is nothing. The acronym ECG stands for Electrocardiogram, however, historically this diagnostic test was named Electrokardiogram in German. Since ECG sounds very close to another test called the EEG, cardiologists often continue to use the EKG acronym to help differentiate the two.

Is EKG Different From An Echocardiogram?
The Echocardiogram (Echo) and Electrocardiogram (ECG) are both diagnostic tests used to assess the health of your heart muscles, arteries, and valves. The difference between the two tests is the instrument and methodology used. We know now that an ECG uses electrical impulses to read the heart’s rhythm and activity, while the Echocardiogram, on the other hand, uses ultrasounds technology to produce an image of the heart. The ECG is the more commonly ordered test, while the Echo is ordered once signs of heart disease have been observed.

How Long Does It Take?
On average, the ECG takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and is noninvasive, painless and completely safe. During the test, the technician places 10 electrodes on the patient’s body and records the heart’s activity.

What Does The ECG Tell Me?
An abnormal ECG can indicate a number of different conditions. It will indicate when a patient has abnormalities in his or her heart rate or rhythm. The typical heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute and remains fairly steady. If a patient’s heart rate is too slow or fast or is uneven, an EKG will pick up on it. The ECG can also test for the heart’s shape and size to determine whether there are any noticeable abnormalities. Finally, damaged heart tissue doesn’t conduct electricity as well as healthy tissue, so an ECG is a great way to determine whether or not a patient has recently suffered a heart attack.

The ECG is often the first assessment used by cardiologists to assess a heart patient because of its ease of implementation and success at diagnosing basic heart conditions. If you have more questions about this or any other cardiac diagnostic tests, contact us today.