The electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a noninvasive test that is used to reflectunderlying heart conditions by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. Bypositioning leads (electrical sensing devices) on the body in standardized locations,information about many heart conditions can be learned by looking for characteristicpatterns on the EKG.EKG leads are attached to the body while the patient lies flat on a bed or table.Leads are attached to each extremity (four total) and to six pre-defined positions on thefront of the chest. A small amount of gel is applied to the skin, which allows the electricalimpulses of the heart to be more easily transmitted to the EKG leads. The leads areattached by small suction cups, Velcro straps, or by small adhesive patches attachedloosely to the skin. The test takes about five minutes and is painless. In some instances,men may require the shaving of a small amount of chest hair to obtain optimal contactbetween the leads and the skin.
A ‘Holter monitor’ is a continuous tape recording of a patient's ECG for 24 hours.It is worn during regular daily activities under regular clothing.It helps your cardiologistcompare symptoms of dizziness, palpitations or black outs with data gathered on theheart. Holter monitoring is used to detect an abnormal heart rhythm.
The only requirement is that the patient wear loose-fitting clothes. Buttons downthe front of a shirt or blouse is preferable. This makes it convenient to apply the ECGelectrodes, and also comfortably carry the monitor in a relatively discreet manner.
The chest is cleansed with an alcohol solution to ensure good attachment of thesticky ECG electrodes. Men with hairy chests may require small areas to be shaved. Theelectrodes (circular white patches) are applied to various points of the chest. Thin wiresare then used to connect the electrodes to a small recorder. The tape recorder is slungover the shoulder and neck. The recorder is worn for 24 hours and you are encouragedto continue your daily activities.You will not be able to shower whilst wearing the monitor. You will need torecord your daily activity in a diary noting times of events such as ‘dance class’ or ‘fightwith husband’. You should also record any symptoms you may experience such asskipped heartbeats, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and dizziness.