Electrocardiography (ECG) is a vital tool used to assess cardiac rhythm and electrical conduction. It is a rapid test that involves the painless application of electrodes applied to stickers on your chest and limbs. It forms part of routine assessment in chronic disease management of conditions such as ischaemic heart disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and COPD. It is also used for the diagnosis of acute conditions of cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) and myocardial infarction (heart attack)
What does an ECG measure?
An ECG measures the electrical activity of your heart that causes it to beat. The test can be used to check whether your heart is functioning properly, or whether there may be damage to it as a result of drugs, devices such as pacemakers, an existing heart disorder such as an irregular heartbeat, or a past heart attack.
During an electrocardiogram, a machine called an electrocardiograph records the electrical activity of your heart muscle and translates this as a pattern on a computer screen or on paper. If your heart is functioning normally, the ECG will have a characteristic pattern, while any irregular heartbeat will change the shape of the pattern produced.
Why have an ECG?
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend that you have an ECG:
- If you’re about to have an operation that could affect your heart, we need to make sure that we know how well it is working beforehand.
- After surgery, so your doctor can measure how active you can be as you recover.
- If you’re experiencing symptoms that may indicate a problem with your heart, such as dizziness, heart palpitations or chest pain.
- If you’re at an increased risk of heart disease due to family history or because of lifestyle factors such as smoking, being overweight, being diabetic, or having high cholesterol.
A standard ECG at Park Lodge Medical Centre
A standard ECG also called a resting ECG, is taken while you’re at rest. Your doctor will ask you to lie down and will put small sticky electrodes onto your legs, arms and chest. These electrodes contain wires attached to a recording machine.
When your heart beats, the electrical signal that is produced is picked up by the electrodes and transmitted to the recorder, which then produces a pattern on a screen or on paper.