An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a test that records the rhythm and electrical activity of the conduction system of your heart. It’s this electrical activity that makes your heart contract, so by measuring it, any problems with your heart’s rate or rhythm can be identified. An ECG is painless and only takes about 5 minutes. Several small, adhesive patches are put on your wrists, ankles and chest. These patches are connected to wires, which lead to a recording machine. The machine doesn’t give electric shocks or affect your heart in any way. The machine records a few beats on paper. Your doctor will then review this to see if:
- there are any problems with your heart rhythm
- you have had a heart attack recently or a long time ago
- you have reduced blood supply (ischaemia)
- your heart is working under strain
- your heart is enlarged.
Doctors usually request a 24-hour ECG record to detect disturbances in the heart rhythm. You will use a small device, which looks like a mini ECG machine, to record cardiac activity with the same patches attached to your chest. You will use this device for a day and should try to make your life normal during registration.