What is an EKG Machine and How Does It Work?

The EKG machine is used daily in hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout the world. It’s necessary in the diagnosis of many diseases and medical problems that deal with the heart, but few people actually understand what the EKG machine and how it works.


An electrocardiogram is a machine that measures the electrical impulses of the heart and transfers that information to a graph or monitor that the doctor can use to determine if there are any cardiac issues. The name comes from electro for electricity, cardio for heart and gram means to write. The machine does not treat any ailment, but is helpful in diagnosing and seeing how treatment is working.

The EKG machine can:

  • Measure the positioning and size of heart chambers
  • Monitor the impact of medication on heart function
  • Determine any issues in relation to pacemakers and surgery
  • Measure heart rate
  • Examine damaged or diseased areas and other issues

The EKG (also known as an ECG) machine can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Through the years, various advancements have made the tool smaller and more compact. There are even portable versions and machines that can connect to phones and other machines through Bluetooth. A doctor 100 miles away can see the results of a patient’s EKG from the comfort of his home.

They are traditionally used over a small amount of time in order to examine the heart at a doctor’s visit, but certain problems may only happen occasionally and require longer measurement. There are machines that a person can take with them so they aren’t bound to a hospital bed. It helps doctor’s see how the heart operates during a normal day instead of while at rest.

What Types Of Problems Does An EKG Machine Help Diagnose?

The heart is a strong muscle, but it can become susceptible to many illnesses and problems through a person’s life. The EKG machine measures the electrical current and helps diagnose problems such as:

  • Heart Attack – A myocardial infarction (more commonly known as a heart attack) is a life threatening cardiac problem that can come on suddenly. A blockage in an artery slows or ceases blood flow to the heart, ultimately, leading to cardiac arrest.
  • Seizures – Anyone that has unexplained spells of fainting or seizures may receive an EKG to determine if they are caused by a heart problem.
  • Irregular Heartbeat – An irregular heartbeat, also called arrhythmia, is when a problem causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. It’s a condition where the heart does not create a regular rhythm.
  • Heart Murmur – When the heart doesn’t get the proper amount of blood flow, it can impact the heart rhythm. While heart murmurs are common and many times perfectly normal, they can also indicate a blocked artery or valve.

How Does an EKG Machine Work?

The patient is hooked up to electrodes, which are set up in pairs. EKG machines with 3-5 leads are more portable and can only get little information compared to the 12-lead models.  The smaller models are used in ambulances where space is an issue and surgery rooms to monitor heart rate during surgery.

In a larger 12-lead EKG machine, the leads can read information from 12 different angles. As the heart beats, the machine’s leads sense the impulses and translate them via the machine into an easily readable chart.

A healthy heart creates s regular rhythm that falls within set parameters. When there are issues with the heart, the rhythm can be off and the machine will reflect those problems in the chart.

Beck Lee has a wide selection of EKG machines from all of the trusted brands. We also feature all of your EKG accessory needs.