Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

  • Medical Author:
    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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When is an ECG (EKG) performed?

  1. As part of a routine physical examination or screening evaluation.
  2. As part of a cardiac exercise stress test.
  3. As part of the evaluation of symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, palpitations, or
  4. As part of the preoperative workup for surgery in patients who may be at an age where heart disease could potentially be present.

What conditions may be diagnosed with an ECG (EKG)?

  1. Abnormally fast or irregular heart rhythms.
  2. Abnormally slow heart rhythms.
  3. Abnormal conduction of cardiac impulses, which may suggest underlying cardiac or metabolic disorders.
  4. Evidence of the occurrence of a prior heart attack (myocardial infarction).
  5. Evidence of an evolving, acute heart attack.
  6. Evidence of an acute impairment to blood flow to the heart during an episode of a threatened heart attack (unstable angina).
  7. Adverse effects on the heart from various heart diseases or systemic diseases (such as high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, etc.).
  8. Adverse effects on the heart from certain lung conditions (such as emphysema, pulmonary embolus [blood clots to lung]).
  9. Certain congenital heart abnormalities.
  10. Evidence of abnormal blood electrolytes (potassium, calcium, magnesium).
  11. Evidence of inflammation of the heart or its lining (myocarditis, pericarditis).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/18/2015
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