Electrocardiogram (ECG)

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.

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers.

heartfailurematters.org is a European Society of Cardiology website

The heartfailurematters.org website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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