An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is one of the simplest and fastest procedures used to evaluate the heart. They are particularly useful to diagnose a problem called an arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat. The electrical information that is recorded provides a graphic representation of the heart's function.
The data is recorded to a paper printout, sometimes called a tracing. Each lead of the EKG looks at a specific part of the heart from different angles. When your child's doctor studies the tracing of the EKG, they look at the size, shape and length of the waveforms and how fast or slow the heart is beating. If the variations differ from a normal pattern, the physician may suspect the presence of a heart problem.
An EKG may also be used during a physical examination to obtain a baseline tracing of the heart's function. This baseline tracing may be used later as a comparison with future EKGs to see if any changes have occurred.