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Equine Health Resource

Electrocardiogram, ECG, EKG



EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart and translates this activity into a visual representation that can be analyzed for abnormalities. Passage of an electrical impulse through the heart precedes contraction and the characteristics of this electrical activity are helpful in diagnosing a variety of heart conditions.

EKG is an integral part of examining horses suspected of having heart disease. It is also a standard monitoring tool for horses that are under general anesthesia. EKG can be performed under field conditions, but is more often performed in a hospital setting.

Electrical leads are attached to a horse’s body and plugged into an EKG machine. Potential voltage difference is measured between the leads and shown as a tracing on a digital screen over a period of time. Normal electrical activity is recorded and any abnormal electrical activity is identified and examined. It can be performed over a short or longer duration of time depending on the suspected problem.

Reasons to UseRelated Observations


Provides great information about the electrical activity of the heart.


EKG does not give direct information about function of the heart, only electrical activity.Simultaneous use of other electrical procedures or diagnostics may interfere with this process.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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