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Electrocardiogram (ECG) (cont.)

Reasons to Have an ECG

The ECG is used to assess heart function. Patients who complain of chest pain or shortness of breath will often have an ECG as one of the first tests to help determine if there is an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack present. Even if there is no heart attack, the ECG can help decide whether the pain is due to angina or narrowing of blood vessels to the heart muscle (atherosclerosis). It is important to realize that an initial ECG may be normal even if there is heart disease present. Serial EKGs may be needed over time to find an abnormality.

ECGs are often performed when a patient complains of lightheadedness, palpitations, or syncope (passing out) since abnormal heart rate and rhythms may affect the heart's ability to pump blood and provide the body with oxygen.

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