Heart health is incredibly important to living a long and comfortable life. While most of us know what we should be doing to promote heart health (getting regular exercise, avoiding saturated fats, etc.), not everyone knows what to do in case of unfamiliar chest pain. The fact is, any kind of chest pain or difficulty breathing should be addressed immediately. Depending on the severity of your discomfort, it might make sense to visit an urgent care center and have an EKG.
What is an EKG?
EKG (or ECG) is the abbreviation for electrocardiogram. This is a test that identifies problems with your heart’s electrical activity. Your heart has a natural electrical system that causes its chambers to contract, pumping blood throughout your body. If your electrical system is not working properly, it could result in a number of health issues.
Why get an EKG?
There are a number of good reasons to have an EKG. If you suffer from unexplained chest pain, dizziness, or have difficulty breathing, a doctor might choose to perform an EKG to help identify the potential cause. Additionally, if you’ve recently had a pacemaker or other device installed — or if you have recently changed or added new medications that affect your heart — a doctor may perform an EKG in order to assess how your heart is reacting to these changes.
Preparing for an EKG
Before having an EKG, let the doctor know of any medications you take regularly (including prescription and over-the-counter meds). It’s important that your physician be aware of any medications that could affect the results of your EKG.
Other than that, there isn’t much you need to do to prepare. While some sources recommend not participating in vigorous exercise before having an EKG, this is not a universally accepted recommendation. It’s best to talk to ask your doctor if you have any specific questions about how to prepare.
What to expect?
When having an EKG, you will be asked to put on a paper gown and lay down on the examination bed. The physician will attach electrodes to your chest and limbs in order to monitor your heart’s activity during the test. Once the test is ready, it should be painless and will only take a few minutes. Make sure the temperature is comfortable, and that you are lying perfectly still. Shivering or moving around could affect the results of the test — but of course your doctor or nurse will go over this with you.
Getting an EKG at an Urgent Care Center
If you want to get an EKG but aren’t able to get a timely appointment with your doctor, find out if your nearest urgent care center offers EKG examinations. Many urgent care centers have the equipment to perform this important test, and you can walk right in without an appointment. After your EKG, the physician will be able to review your results with you, and will also provide you with a copy of the results that you can share with your primary care physician. Make sure you visit an urgent care center you trust. If you don’t have an urgent care center you use regularly, check online to find a reputable option near you.