What is an electrocardiogram ?
An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a test that records the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity. It is this electrical activity that causes the heart to contract, so counting it can identify problems that your heart may have in terms of rhythm or pulse rate.
How long does the test last?
The ECG is painless and only lasts about 5 minutes.
How is the test done?
Several small, self-adhesive pads are placed on your wrists, ankles and chest. These patches are connected by cables that lead to a recording machine. The machine does not deliver electric shocks or affect your heart in any way.
The machine records strokes on paper.
An electrocardiogram is a very useful tool for measuring the electrical activity of the heart and its muscle cells. It reveals a lot of information about your heart health – contractions, pulse and rhythms and is important for diagnosing many heart conditions. It produces a continuous diagram or trace of the sequential electrical activity of heart cells as they cause the heart to beat.
Your doctor then checks the paper to see if:
- there are problems with your heart rate
- you have had a heart attack recently or in the past
- you have a limited blood supply (ischemia)
- your heart is working under pressure
- your heart has enlarged.
The examination is by appointment.