Causes for abnormal electrocardiogram results include damage to the heart muscle, a congenital heart defect, swelling or fluid in the sac around the heart, and inflammation of the heart, explains MedlinePlus. Other potential causes include poor blood flow to the heart or a past or current heart attack.
An electrocardiogram detects damage in the heart, states MedlinePlus. It shows how quickly the heart is beating and if the heart is beating normally. Doctors sometimes use the test to monitor how medications or devices, such as a pacemaker, affect the heart. Furthermore, the test can measure the position and size of the heart chambers.
Doctors typically order electrocardiograms for patients who have heart palpitations or chest pain, or for those who are facing surgery, according to MedlinePlus. The test is usually the first step to determining if a patient has heart disease. A doctor may order an electrocardiogram if a patient has had heart problems in the past, or if there is a history of heart disease in the patent's family. There are no risks associated with this test, but it cannot detect all heart issues. Individuals who are healthy and show no signs of heart issues typically do not need an electrocardiogram.