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An electrocardiogram (EKG) is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to evaluate the heart. Electrodes (small, plastic patches that stick to the skin) are placed at certain locations on the chest, arms, and legs. When the electrodes are connected to an EKG machine by lead wires, the electrical activity of the heart is measured, interpreted, and printed out. No electricity is sent into the body.
Natural electrical impulses coordinate contractions of the different parts of the heart to keep blood flowing the way it should. An EKG records these impulses to show how fast the heart is beating, the rhythm of the heartbeats (steady or irregular) and the strength and timing of the electrical impulses as they move through the different parts of the heart. Changes in an EKG can be a sign of many heart-related conditions.
Cardiac Stress Test
A cardiac stress test assesses the heart's response to stress or exercise. In this test, you will walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while connected to an EKG. An EKG tracing will be taken at certain points during the test to compare the effects of increasing stress on the heart.
Periodically, the incline and treadmill speed will be increased in order to make exercise more difficult during the test. If you are riding a bicycle, you will pedal faster against increased resistance. In either case, you will exercise until reaching a target heart rate (determined by the healthcare provider based on age and physical status) or until you are unable to continue due to tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, or other symptoms.
Tilt Table Testing
You may need a tilt table test if you have recurring fainting and other causes were ruled out by other tests.
This procedure attempts to cause syncope by creating changes in posture from lying to standing. You will lie flat on a special bed or table with special safety belts and a footrest while connected to EKG and blood pressure monitors. The bed or table is then elevated to an almost standing position (60- to 80-degree vertical angle) to simulate standing up from a lying position.
The blood pressure and EKG are measured during the test to evaluate changes during the position changes. If the test causes you to faint, then the cause of the syncope is vasovagal syndrome. Your doctor can then prescribe specific treatment for the syncope when the cause is known.
Schedule an Appointment
To request an appointment for an EKG, please call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573) or request an appointment online.