Patients may have an abnormal electrocardiogram result if the heart beats less than 60 beats per minute or more than 100 beats per minute, according to WebMD. In addition, if the heart beat is irregular or if the recorded tracing does not look normal, an abnormal result may be determined.
During the electrocardiogram, a doctor examines the heart activity and watches the dips and spikes that are recorded into line tracings onto a piece of paper, explains WebMD. Each set of spikes and dips, also known as waves, shows the activity of the heart and how it is working. A normal tracing shows a patient with a regular heart beat range of 60 and 100 beats per minute.
The exam requires patients to lie down on an exam table, states WebMD. The examiner places several electrodes on the arms, legs and chest. Patients are asked to stay calm, breathe normally, lie still and avoid talking during the procedure.
The purpose of an electrocardiogram is to monitor the heart's electrical activity, which helps determine the causes of unexplained chest pain, symptoms of heart disease and the thickness of the walls of the heart chambers, explains WebMD. It is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of certain medications and to monitor pacemakers.