Matters of the Heart: What is ECG or EKG?

Our heart is a small muscle that holds a fundamental role in keeping us alive. It is responsible for pumping blood where each part of the body gets nourishment to be able to function well. However, it is not all the time that the heart is at its best. There are various conditions and diseases that make the heart weak. If you feel any irregularity with your heart beat or pain in your chest, do not take this lightly. Check with a cardiologist if you need ECG or EKG

What is ECG or EKG?

ECG or EKG stands for Electrocardiogram. This is a type of a medical exam that evaluates the health of the heart. An ECG test uses a machine and the procedure is done in a clinic or a hospital room. The ECG machine has lead wires with patches at the end, called Electrodes. These patches are attached to specific points on the body, particularly on the areas of the arms, chest, and legs. 

What are the types of ECG?

These are the types of ECG that are recommended depending on a patient’s condition:

  • Ambulatory ECG 
  • Resting ECG
  • Stress ECG

An ambulatory ECG, otherwise known as a Holter monitor, uses a wearable device that monitors the heart’s functionality when a traditional ECG or EKG is unable to give sufficient data about the condition of the heart. Resting ECG is done while the patient is lying down comfortably. A stress ECG is carried out with the use of other equipment, such as a treadmill or an exercise bike. 

What is an ECG test?

An ECG test is usually done during physical exams as part of a routine check up. It is also done to check the heart’s health and see if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Coronary artery diseases
  • Heart damage
  • Irregular heart rhythm (Arrythmias)

ECG tests can likewise help in monitoring the efficiency of pacemakers and other drug medications.

How does an ECG or EKG machine work?

Once the electrodes are attached to the body, the ECG machine works by recording the electrical impulses made by the heart, which is necessary to regulate the flow of blood in the body. The ECG measures the following:

  • Heart rate when beating
  • Rhythm of heart beats
  • Strength of the heart’s electrical impulses
  • Timing of the heart’s electrical impulses

The findings are then printed out and interpreted by a cardiologist.

How do you know if you need an ECG test?

An ECG or EKG test is highly recommended for individuals whose family has a history of heart disease. A cardiologist may also ask this procedure to be done if these signs are exhibited by a patient:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Fast pulse
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

How is an ECG test done?

An ECG or EKG test can be done in a cardiologist’s clinic or a hospital. Here is what you can expect during an ECG test:


The patient will be requested to change into a hospital gown. Any accessories, such as jewellery, should be removed as well. The parts of the body where the electrode patches will be attached to should be free from hair. If hair is present, this will be shaved off in order for the electrodes to stick. Depending on the type of the ECG test, the patient may be asked to lie down on an examining table or use a treadmill or exercise bike. 

Test Proper

Patients are asked to keep still and breathe normally during the ECG test. Any unnecessary movement or starting a conversation can hinder the accuracy of the test’s output.

Expect at least five to twelve electrodes to be attached to the body. These patches have wires that are connected to a machine, which monitors and records the electrical signals that cause the heart to beat. The data come out as waves that are either printed on a sheet of paper or displayed on a monitor screen. 


You may feel a bit of discomfort once the electrodes come off and there may be red patches on the areas of the skin where they were attached to, but these discolorations and discomfort are only temporary. The cardiologist may read the results of the test directly after it is completed or set another time to discuss it. If the findings detect any abnormality in the heart, a patient may be asked to stay in the clinic or hospital for further tests. Otherwise, a patient is free to resume to their normal activities once the test is finished.

Are there risks involved when undergoing an ECG or EKG test?

An ECG or EKG test is generally safe. This procedure is non-invasive, so there is no need to worry about having incisions or injections done to the body. However, an ECG or EKG test may not be accurate when a patient has pre-existing health conditions like electrolyte imbalances, obesity, or fluid build up in the abdomen. Medications, pregnancy, and obesity may also interfere with the ECG readings. It is important that these are relayed to the cardiologist so that proper preparations can be made and these factors are considered when reading your results.

What are the preparations needed prior to an ECG or EKG test?

The cardiologist should be able to share information about the things that a patient needs to prepare prior to the scheduled ECG or EKG test. Generally, the ECG or EKG procedure is explained. This is the best time for patients to ask questions or share any concerns. Inform your doctor if you wear a pacemaker and all medications that you are currently taking. Fasting from food or drink is usually not required. 

Where to go for ECG or EKG test in Singapore

In Singapore, ECG or EKG tests are offered at Cadence Heart Centre. This clinic is headed by Dr Devinder Singh, a Senior Consultant Cardiologist and Cardiac Electrophysiologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience. 

Cadence Heart Centre – Dr Devinder Singh

Mt Elizabeth Hospital, 3 Mount Elizabeth #14-13

Mt Elizabeth Medical Centre, Singapore 228510

(65) 8318 9884

(65) 6369 8789

(65) 6369 2789

Kherk Roldan

Kherk Roldan

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