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An electrocardiogram, also called an ECG or EKG, is a quick and painless test that measures the heart’s electrical activity.
The specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, perform EKGs at multiple locations around Louisville and Southern Indiana so you and your child can stay close to home for this routine test.
The EKG can show the heart’s rhythm, as well as the size of its chambers and their position.
Electrodes with wires are used to capture the heartbeat information. The electrodes are painless and attached to the child’s chest with sticky pads. The child’s skin should not have any baby oil or lotion on it, so the adhesive on the electrodes can stick.
Once the technician starts the EKG, the test takes about a minute. The technician or doctor may ask the child to get up and briefly exercise.
The EKG produces a graph that shows the heart’s activity in several waves. The height, length and frequency of the waves show important information, such as:
Different types of EKG tests can provide important information as to how a child’s heart is working.
The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute use EKGs to look for heart rates that are too slow or too fast, abnormal rhythms and inconsistent rhythms between the upper and lower heart chambers.
Physicians can use an EKG to diagnose four types of heart damage:
At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, pediatric cardiologists often combine EKGs with other tests to get a more complete picture of the cause of a child’s heart issue. For example, they may perform an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of the heart and blood vessels’ structures on a screen. It can show the structure and function of the heart, which, combined with the EKG showing the heart’s electrical activity, gives a more complete understanding of what is going on with the heart.