An EKG, or electrocardiogram, is a non-invasive, completely painless test, which evaluates the health of your heart. It measures your heart rate and heart’s electrical activity to tell the doctor if you have an irregular or dangerous heartbeat that can’t be detected with a stethoscope.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. EKG testing helps identify heart conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM, and Long QT Syndrome, which affects young athletes. A single EKG can’t catch everyone at risk, but it can catch many. Better yet, every heart condition has a treatment plan to avoid sudden cardiac death.
You will lie down on a table in a booth and 10 adhesive pads (electrodes) will be placed on your arms, legs, and chest. A wire is then attached to each electrode that is connected to a computer which records a reading of your heart rate and electrical activity. This will only take 2-3 minutes.
You should wear your gym uniform, if possible. If no:
Boys should wear a loose fitting shirt that can be easily removed.
Girls should wear a loose fitting shirt with a bra underneath. Girls shirts are NOT removed.
You should AVOID wearing a sports bra, dress, tights, as well as lotion.
All students should AVOID wearing multiple layers of clothing the day of the screening.
Boys and girls will be tested in separate areas.
No, an EKG is painless. You may experience some minor discomfort removing the electrodes. Removing the electrode is similar to removing a band-aid. If you have any allergy to adhesives (band-aids or tape), you may experience some redness and/or irritation where the electrodes were placed. Please let us know if you have an allergy to adhesives.
At the high school level, some students selected by the cardiologists will also receive a limited echocardiogram at no additional cost.
At the college level, it depends on the type of testing program your college is providing. Some colleges will elect to have all the athletes complete an EKG and echocardiogram. Other colleges may decide that only athletes with a suspicious EKG or family history will receive an echocardiogram. In this case, these athletes are selected by the cardiologists to receive a limited echocardiogram on site at no additional cost. The cardiologist reviews the echo to determine if further medical evaluation is required. Some athletes will be referred to a medical center for additional testing.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to allow the cardiologist to look at the function of the heart. The echo is used to detect some conditions that might not show on the EKG, to clarify findings on the EKG, and to rule out or confirm the presence of cardiac conditions reported on the cardiac history.
At the high school level, information will be shared with your parent(s) or guardian(s). We do not share individual results with the high school with the exception of boarding schools where the school is serving as a substitute parent.
Since college students are typically adults, we release the results directly to the student. In some instances, such as testing of only school athletes, the Athletic Trainer also gets the results. Each release form contains specific language to let you know who will receive the results, but in general, every effort is made to preserve privacy and to acknowledge who will receive results.