Electrolyte imbalances or medication side effects can cause your heart to beat too quickly (tachycardia). Your doctor will review the information recorded by the ECG machine and look for any problems with your heart, including: If your doctor finds any problems on your ECG, he or she may order additional tests to see if treatment is necessary. Other aspects of heart disease may lead to an abnormal EKG. The graph is broken up into two types of squares, small and large. An abnormal EKG means that there is something unexpected in the EKG reading. It does not send electricity into the body and will not cause any pain. Chronic respiratory problems, Lyme disease, hypothermia, or even being hit in the chest too hard can manifest themselves as an abnormal ECG. An imbalance in electrolyte minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium may cause an abnormal EKG reading. If a certain medication is causing the abnormal readings, they may recommend an alternative. Other issues may require more individualized treatments. However, each line corresponds to an electrical signal sent from the heart. Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease. Learn about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this life-threatening condition. Ischemia, or lack of blood flow, may also cause an abnormal EKG. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development, Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, See our safety precautions in response to COVID-19, Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition. This person may require a pacemaker, which helps restore the heart to a more normal rhythm. A doctor will want to run additional tests to find the underlying cause. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. For example, people with high blood pressure are more likely to have an abnormal EKG reading. Office electrocardiograms. Each heartbeat sends out an electrical impulse. Since this is unlikely, doctors may recommend using a Holter monitor, which monitors the heart’s activity for 24 hours or longer. It is likely that in many clinical settings you’ll be asked to regularly review ECGs. However, there are some cases where an abnormal ECG is the sign of a problem that is indirectly related to your heart. Sometimes, medications given to improve the heart’s rhythm can have the reverse effect and cause arrhythmias. The test itself typically takes five minutes or less. Mayo Clinic. Another reason to get an EKG is experiencing heart palpitations or arrhythmia. An abnormal EKG means that there is something unexpected in the EKG reading. The only side effect of the electrodes, according to National Institutes of Health, is a mild rash from irritation. Once all the data is collected, the electrical activity of your heart will be displayed on a graph-lined background. Anyone who is getting an EKG should discuss any medications they are taking with a doctor. Electrocardiograms — also called ECGs or EKGs — are often done in a doctor's office, a clinic or a hospital room. Want a better price? In: Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately. Doctors may also regularly use EKGs to check on people with diagnosed heart disease. During a heart attack, blood flow in the heart is affected, which can lead to tissue damage and cell death. A technician will attach twelve electrodes to the skin of your chest, arms and legs. A doctor can recommend further tests to diagnose the underlying cause of a person’s symptoms and EKG results. Medication side effects: Taking certain medications can impact a heart’s rate and rhythm. Here's What You Should Know. What is an Abnormal ECG? It's a common and painless test used to quickly detect heart problems and monitor your heart's health. Many things can cause an abnormal EKG, and not all of them are dangerous. the feeling that your chest is being squeezed. This may be the case if a person doesn’t have troublesome symptoms or if the abnormality is not cause for concern. Electrodes are placed on your chest to record your heart's electrical signals, which cause your heart to beat. Use this EKG interpretation cheat sheet that summarizes all heart arrhythmias in an easy-to-understand fashion. All rights reserved. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Heart rate abnormalities: A typical human heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). Once you're ready, you'll be asked to lie on an examining table or bed. All Rights Reserved, https://www.cardiacdirect.com/understanding-chest-pain.html, Cardiac Direct is now a certified GE dealer, Heart of the Matter: The History of Cardiovascular Medicine, Pros and Cons of Buying Used Cardiac Equipment, The Evolution of Cardiovascular Technology, How to Treat Heart Disease Better than Ever Before. In addition, an abnormal EKG can show if the heart beat does not start at the top right of the heart, which it does in a normal heart beat. An abnormal ECG may be caused by a variety of factors, including an arrhythmia, or a faster or slower than normal heartbeat.