12 lead resting ECG

An ECG (electrocardiogram) is a recording of heartbeats. It is the most common test performed to help a Doctor decide on or in many cases eliminate a possible heart problem. It is a simple test that causes no pain and has no side effects. If your Doctor thinks you may have heart disease or a heart related problem, they may refer you to a hospital for an ECG. Some GP's do this test in their surgery.

What happens at an ECG?

You can carry on with all your normal activities as usual before an ECG recording. You can eat, drink and take medication as normal on the day.

Several small electrodes (sticky pads) will be placed on your chest, arms and legs. These will be connected to the ECG recording machine. The ECG recorder picks up the electrical signals that are produced by each heart beat. This will be recorded on a graph and printed out for the GP.

You must avoid applying any body moisturiser/lotion on the day of the test as the pads will not connect to your skin and may give an inaccurate reading.

You will be asked to undress to the waist so that we have access to your chest. If you have a very hairy chest we may need to shave a couple of small patches for the electrodes to stick.

The ECG machine can only record electrical signals from your body. It does not give out electrical shocks and does not affect your heart in any way.

The whole procedure will take about 5 minutes and you will not feel any
discomfort at all.

What will the test show?

An ECG detects any irregularities in your heart rhythm. It can also tell if your heart is enlarged or is working under strain. ECG's are performed for many reasons. Listed below are four of the most common reasons for recording an ECG.

  • To aid diagnosis of chest pain
  • To know more about your heart rhythm
  • To examine the heart with a murmur
  • To examine the heart in patients who have high blood pressure

An abnormal reading does not always mean there is something wrong, and further investigations are sometimes necessary.

Do I need to do anything before the test?

No. You may eat and drink as normal before the test. You may also take any medications as normal.

What happens next?

The printed ECG recording is analysed, then reported upon by a Consultant Cardiologist and the results forwarded to your GP who will interpret them and give you the formal result at your next appointment.

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