What is an Electrocardiogram (ECG)?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that detects heart problems by measuring the electrical activity generated by the heart.
A technician will attach several sensors (called ‘electrodes’) to your chest. Wires connect these sensors to a machine called an electrocardiograph. We will ask you to lie still on our exam table while the sensors detect the electrical currents generated by your heart, which will be measured and recorded by the electrocardiograph.
ECG results from healthy hearts have a characteristic shape. If yours is different, it may suggest a heart problem.
Why do I need an Electrocardiogram (ECG)?
Your doctor may recommend an ECG if they suspect you may have a heart problem such as coronary heart disease.
You may need an ECG if you are experiencing:
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid pulse
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness, light-headedness or confusion
- Weakness, fatigue or a decline in your ability to exercise
An ECG can also be used to check the effectiveness of heart disease treatments such as medication, pacemakers or surgery.
What can I expect?
An ECG is an extremely safe and painless test, which typically takes less than 10 minutes.
There’s no need to restrict food or drink beforehand. We will ask you what medications you are taking and whether you have any allergies to adhesive tapes that may be used to attach the electrodes.
Please be aware that you will need to remove all clothing on the upper half of your body so that sensors can be attached to your chest, arms and legs. Women may find it easier to wear a top and skirt/pants (as opposed to a dress), to allow easy access to the chest. For men, it is sometimes necessary for us to shave part of the chest so that we can attach the sensors.