An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is one of the simplest and fastest procedures used to evaluate the heart. It's a noninvasive test that measures the electrical activity of the heart over a short period of time, usually about 10 seconds. The results are printed out for the physician's information and interpretation. These results provide the physician with very valuable information about the heart's electrical function.
However, sometimes a physician may need more information. A Signal Average ECG records the electrical activity of the heart for a longer period of time. This provides the physician with more detailed information about your heart.
What does the machine do?
The machine records the electrical impulses going through your heart just as a regular ECG does, but it records them for a longer period of time, averages them and prints out a report for your physician to review.
What happens during a Signal Average ECG?
As with most ECGs, it may be necessary to loosen your clothes. A technician will place two sticky electrodes on your back. One will be placed on the back of your neck and the other at about the middle of your back. Wires will be attached to the electrodes and you will be asked to lay down. The technician will then place twelve more electrodes and wires on your body—one on each arm and leg and eight in certain places on your chest. The technician will try to make you as comfortable as possible because you will need to hold completely still while the machine is recording.
The machine will begin to record the electrical impulses of your heart. This will usually take between five to 20 minutes. When a good recording has been taken, the technician will unhook you and you're done. You'll be able get up, adjust your clothing and leave or go on to your next test.
How long will the test last?
The test usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes.
What if I have symptoms during the test?
It is important that you let your technician know if you're having any symptoms such as chest pain, discomfort, dizziness or shortness of breath. Our skilled professionals are prepared to handle any symptoms you may have during testing.
When will I know how my Signal Average ECG turned out?
You will need to get the results of your test from your physician's office. After the test is completed, it will be sent into Memorial's computer system for your physician to review. It will also be made available to the cardiologist scheduled to read the test. Once your test has been read, the computer system is updated with the final report. This report is also available to your physician by fax.
If you have more questions about this test or other cardiac or vascular concerns, call (217) 788-3705.