EKG vs. ECG: Decoding Your Heart Tests

Heart Health Month 2013 300x199 EKG vs. ECG: Decoding Your Heart Tests PhotoWhen it comes to measuring the health of your heart, there are two tests that are commonly used: An electrocardiogram (EKG) or an echocardiogram (ECG).

What’s the difference? Below is a chart that compares the two procedures.


What is it? A test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. A test that measures the shape and size of the heart, and how the blood flows through it. An ECG can show how valves are functioning and how the left and right sides are communicating.
What can it detect?
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Damage to the heart muscle or tissue
  • Changes in the thickness of the heart wall
  • Chemical or electrolyte imbalances
  • Blood clots in vessels of the heart
  • Previous heart attacks
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Problems with valves
  • How well blood is being pumped through
Who performs it? Typically, an EKG will be performed by a nurse or medical technician. A sonographer, or ultrasound technologist, typically performs an ECG.
Do I need to prepare? No. The test is non-invasive and does not require fasting. No. The test is non-invasive and does not require fasting.
What happens The medical technician will place stickers (called leads or electrodes) on your chest and then connect wires to them. The leads measure the heart’s electrical activity by recording wavy lines on paper.Normal activity is when the heart has 60 to 100 beats per minute and shows a normal rhythm and wave pattern.You will be asked to stay still during the test, which typically lasts about five to 10 minutes. An ultrasound technician will have you lie on your side on a table. Then, they will apply a gel to your chest and move a wand around on your chest to create the heart images.Your doctor will read the results of the sonograph.