An EKG, the abbreviation for electrocardiogram, is a device that registers your heart function by picking up electrical impulses through your skin. The device measures the speed of your heart beat, or heart rate, and also reports anomalies in the heart beat such as murmurs. A typical EKG may have a series of small hills punctuated by sharp peaks that look like an inverted "V." The sharp peaks are called "R" waves and each peak represents one heart beat.
Remove your shirt and use the alcohol pads to remove excess oils from your chest. Men with excessive chest hair should shave or wax before the EKG. Women need to remove their bras, but can wear a loose shirt, or gown, for the sake of modesty.
Machine configurations may vary slightly. Remove the paper from the adhesive side of the electrode and apply the electrodes per the manufacturer's instructions. Machine configuration may vary slightly, and each machine should have a diagram or instruction manual.
Apply the leads to the electrodes, and the electrodes to the EKG per the manufacturer's instructions. The leads should be color-coded and each machine should have a diagram.
Turn on the machine and let it run for approximately one minute. Sit still and avoid talking to ensure an accurate reading. At the end of the reading, tun off the machine and remove the electrodes and leads.
Count the number of "R" waves, or inverted "V"s within 30 large squares on the strip. Each large square is equal to 0.2 seconds, 30 squares equals six seconds. Multiply that number by 10 to get the number of beats per minute.
- RN CEUs: How to Read an EKG Strip
- "Personal Trainer Manual"; American Council on Exercise; 2003