Electrocardiogram (ECG): what it is for, when it is needed

The electrocardiogram or ECG is a diagnostic test designed to record the electrical activity of the heart in order to assess its health status and detect various cardiac abnormalities, pathologies or arrhythmias

There are three types of ECG, which can meet different needs depending on the specific case: resting ECG, dynamic ECG according to Holter, and exercise ECG.


What is the purpose of the electrocardiogram?

The ECG can record the heart rhythm and electrical activity of the heart, and through this examination, a cardiologist can detect:

  • cardiac arrhythmias: normally, the heart beats at a rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute, but alterations in rhythm can occur, even asymptomatic ones, which can be potentially dangerous to the patient;
  • ischemia or myocardial infarction;
  • functional alterations of the heart muscle (the myocardium), such as cardiomyopathy, dilation of atria or ventricles, wall hypertrophy, and enlarged heart;

In addition, the electrocardiogram makes it possible to examine damage from previous heart attacks, assess the function of pacemakers and similar devices, or analyze the effects that certain drugs may have on the heart.


How should I prepare for an electrocardiogram?

An EKG is a noninvasive test that poses no risk to the patient and requires no special preparation.

In general, it is advisable to wear comfortable clothes and shoes such as sneakers or “trainers,” particularly in the case of an EKG under stress, and to inform the physician if you are taking any drug therapies or if you have any pacemakers.

*This is indicative information; therefore, it is necessary to contact the facility where the examination is being performed to obtain specific information on the preparation procedure.

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