An electrocardiogram or ECG is a recording of the electrical signals of your heart.
What is it?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is commonly used to detect heart problems and monitor the heart in different situations. An ECG is a routine and painless cardiac investigation procedure that provides your doctor with information about your heart’s electrical rhythm, how well it conducts electricity, and even the heart muscle mass. It is an important diagnostic tool when investigating a range of potential problems that could be affecting your heart’s function, however a standard ECG can record an abnormal heart rhythm only if it happens during the test.
What should I expect?
- An ECG is a quick, painless and non-invasive test, often performed by a technician in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital.
- You may be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on an examining bed.
- Small metal disks called electrodes will be attached to your chest and your limbs.
- The electrodes have wires which are attached to an electrocardiograph machine that will record and then print out cardiac electrical activity.
- The test is usually completed in a few minutes.
You do not need to do anything to prepare for your test, however you may wish to wear a two-piece outfit on the day to enable you to easily undress to the waist
Where possible, avoid applying lotions, perfumes or powders to the chest area and remove any neck jewellery to assist with adhering the electrodes
Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking as some may affect the results of your test
What happens next?
You may resume normal activities immediately following your ECG. The results will usually be discussed with you following the test and a comprehensive report sent to your referring doctor. If your electrocardiogram is normal, you may not need any other tests. If the results show an abnormality, you may need further diagnostic tests. Your doctor will be able to advise the best cause of action depending on your symptoms.
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