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What is this test?

This test uses a machine to detect electricity in the heart and show how electrical currents move from one part of your heart to another. The pattern of electrical activity is recorded onto a piece of paper.

How is this test performed?

Electrical wires, called electrodes, are painlessly placed onto your arms, legs and chest. Sometimes body hair interferes with the attachment of these electrodes and small areas of the skin need to be shaved. You will be asked to lie very still as a specially trained technician starts the machine’s recording. The test usually takes less than 10 minutes and is painless.

What will it show?

This test will show how quickly and regularly your heart beats. It will also indicate the size of chambers and thickness of the walls of the heart, whether you have scar or lack of blood in your heart.

Patient preparation and recovery

Please bathe prior to the test as you will need to completely disrobe from the waist up. With the exception of deodorant, please do not apply lotions, oils, powder, or perfumes after bathing. A hospital gown will be provided for women or as needed. Fasting is not required and no special recovery is needed afterwards. Please let us know if sitting up from a lying position makes you dizzy.


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At St. John Providence Health System, we know that you’re a unique individual and not just a condition or a list of symptoms. We treat the whole person. Get in touch with us so we can learn about you and give you the help you need for your individual situation.

Call 1-866-501-DOCS (3627)