Electrocardiogram (Encyclopedia of Science)
An electrocardiogram (pronounced ee-lek-troe-KAR-dee-oh-gram) is a recording of the electrical activity within the heart that is obtained by placing various electrodes on the skin surface. From this painless, quick, and inexpensive test, doctors are able to evaluate a person's heart rate and rhythm and to detect if something is wrong.
Normal and abnormal wave patterns
An electrocardiogram, better known as an EKG or ECG, is a common test doctors use to obtain information about the overall health of a patient's heart. Using a machine called an electrocardiograph, the physician is able to see a real-time image of the electrical activity going on in the heart. Usually the doctor examines a printed pattern of heart activity that is recorded on a moving strip of paper, but he or she may also view the pattern on a television-like screen. By examining this pattern of waves, the physician views an actual picture of the heart's rhythm and can then detect many heart problems. Since a normal, healthy heart makes a specific pattern of waves, a damaged or diseased heart changes that pattern in recognizable ways. Simply by examining the EKG, a physician can detect and analyze something like an abnormal or irregular heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia (pronounced uh-RITH-mee-uh). The physician can also identify areas of the heart muscle that have been damaged by coronary heart...
(The entire section is 1272 words.)
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