Main content

    Learning About Your Health

    Electrocardiogram (EKG)

    Printer-friendly PDF of Electrocardiogram (EKG)Opens new window (67KB)
    Download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat ReaderOpens new window)

    What is an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

    An electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG or ECG, is a non-invasive test to check the electrical activity of your heart. The EKG records heart rhythms. Your doctor diagnoses heart conditions by reading patterns seen on an EKG. This test takes about 5 - 10 minutes.

    An EKG shows:

    • abnormal heartbeats and rhythms (arrhythmias)

    • evidence of a current heart attack and the effects of old heart attacks

    • thickening of the heart muscle caused by high blood pressure or other diseases

    • parts of the heart that are not getting enough blood supply

    • evidence of chemical imbalances within the body

    Back to top

    Before Your EKG Test

    • Take your regular medications.

    • Wear a loose-fitting shirt or blouse to the EKG test. You are asked to undress from the waist up for this test.

    • If you are a patient in the hospital, an EKG technician does the test at the bedside.

    • If you are coming from home, you may walk-in. No appointment is necessary.

    • Bring the requisition form that your doctor signs and gives to you.

    Back to top

    Where Do I Go for the EKG Test?

    Campus Step 1: Registerth>Step 2: Go ToDrop-in Hours
    Pacific Campus2333 Buchanan Street Admitting, Lobby Level2333 Buchanan Street Kanbar Cardiac Center Lobby Level, past the lobby and the public elevators8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    (Monday - Friday)

    8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    (Saturday - Sunday)
    California Campus3700 California Street Outpatient Registration, Lobby Level3700 California Street Lobby Level, Room G5308:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    (Monday - Friday)
    Davies CampusCastro at Duboce Street Outpatient Registration, North Tower, A LevelSouth Tower, farthest end of B Level8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    (Monday - Friday)
    St. Luke's Campus3555 Cesar Chavez Street 4th floor, Room 421 Walk a few yards to adjoining Monteagle Building (1580 Valencia Street, Suite 412 )8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    (Monday - Friday)

    Back to top

    During Your EKG Test

    • The technician explains the test.

    • Body hair may sometimes prevent proper EKG signal recording. The technician may shave a small area in order to place the electrodes.

    • The technician places electrodes on your arms, legs, and chest.

    • You are encouraged to lie quietly without moving during this test.

    • EKG is a completely painless test. You will not feel any discomfort.

    Back to top

    After Your EKG Test

    • You may go home and return to your normal activities after the test.

    • Your EKG test results are mailed or faxed to your primary doctor and to your cardiologist (if you have one).

    • Your doctor speaks to you about more testing, if needed.

    Back to top

    More Ways to Learn

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Question: What is an electrocardiogram (EKG)?
      Answer: An EKG is a recording of the electrical activity of your heart.

    • Question: How long will the test take?
      Answer: An EKG takes about 5-10 minutes to complete.

    • Question: Will I feel any discomfort with an EKG test?
      Answer: You will not feel any discomfort. An EKG is a completely painless test.

    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the the Department of Non-Invasive Cardiology at California Pacific Medical Center. Last updated: 2/09

    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

    Back to top