What is an Electrocardiogram (ECG)?
An Electrocardiogram or ECG is a diagnostic tool used to help in the identification of abnormal heart rhythms, diagnosis of heart attacks or reduced blood flow through the coronary arteries.
An Electrocardiogram is a standard diagnostic tool used by all Cardiologist to look at the electrical signals generated by the heart as it contracts and relaxes. Electrical signals are sent via electrodes placed on the patient's arms, legs and chest to an ECG machine which documents the rhythm from each of the leads connected to the electrodes. ECG's from a healthy heart generate a standard set of signals. A patient with certain cardiac conditions will generate a set of signals with particular differences which can be interpreted by a doctor.
Why do I need an ECG?
Your doctor may recommend an ECG in order to:
Diagnose irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
Identify any structural problems with your heart’s chambers
See how effective any previous heart surgery has been
Determine if you have coronary artery disease
How do I prepare?
There is little preparation aside from avoiding wearing creams, moisturisers or powders which prevent good adherence of the electrodes to the skin and will result in poor tracing.
What should I expect?
During an ECG test:
You’ll lie on an exam bed
Electrodes will be attached to your arms and chest
You’ll be asked to lie still and breathe normally
The electrodes will record your heart’s electrical activity
The electrocardiograph will display the activity on a monitor and on paper
Your doctor will examine the activity to determine whether it’s normal or irregular
What are the risks of having an ECG?
An ECG is a very safe procedure and there are virtually no risks associated with the test. You may experience very minor skin discomfort when the electrodes are removed.
The results of your ECG are a normal part of your consultation with the Cardiologist and will be reported in your letter to your doctor and sent electronically.