ECG and EKG: The Difference May Surprise You

ecg ekg difference

Acronyms are so common in the medical field that entire semesters in medically-related professional training are devoted to terminology. From AAS to ZEEP, few acronyms cause more confusion than ECG and EKG. Yet their difference may surprise you.

What is the difference between an ECG and EKG?

Absolutely nothing.

That’s right. ECG and EKG actually stand for the same word – electrocardiogram. So why the two abbreviations? When electrocardiogram is translated into German, it is spelled Elektro-kardiographie. As a result, some people prefer to use the term EKG over ECG based on this spelling.

Welch Allyn CP 150 ECG

Foremost Medical Equipment carries many different ECG / EKGs – including this Welch Allyn

What is an Electrocardiogram?

The human heart is a remarkable organ. Not only does it beat more than 115,000 times per day, but it also uses electricity to do it. In simplest terms, an electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity in the heart to determine its health. Using a series of algorithms, an electrocardiogram can measure heart rate, variability, stress, fatigue, heart age, and even mood.

How does an Electrocardiogram Measure Heart Health?

For any heart to beat, its sinoatrial node must send out an electrical impulse that travels across the muscle cells of the heart and triggers a contraction. This is commonly known as a heart beat. As long as these electrical impulses are sent out at a regular pace, the heart beats at a steady rate. During an electrocardiogram, sensors that are attached to electrodes are placed on the person’s chest. As the heart beats, electrical impulses are measured and recorded. When paired with the computer inside the electrocardiogram machine, algorithms translate the data into information that can then be used to affect a person’s health. If a heart beats irregularly, it may be a sign of a blockage in the arteries of the heart. If it beats rapidly, it can be a sign of physical stress.

electrocardiogram heart beat

Electrocardiogram on a blue screen (heart beat)

What does an ECG/EKG Feel Like?

The information gained from an ECG/EKG is invaluable when it comes to diagnosing heart problems or other health issues. Fortunately, an ECG or EKG is painless, non-invasive and can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, ECG/EKG technology does not stop at the hospital or doctor’s office. Wearable devices now enable physicians to track a heart’s data over the course of entire days or even weeks. From how work stress affects a person’s heart health to an athlete’s performance measured as a function of heart rate, wearable devices are smaller and easier to wear than ever. Remove monitoring provided by web-enabled ECG/EKG devices allows physicians to track patients’ progress and health remotely in real world situations that may impact a person’s heart rate, variability or stress.

As tempting as it may be to differentiate between an ECG and an EKG, the two acronyms both stand for life-saving technology that can monitor heart health. For more information on which ECG/EKG machine is right for you, or to discuss your electrocardiography needs with a qualified equipment specialist, contact Foremost Medical Equipment.