An electrocardiogram, or ECG, records the rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. People usually have an ECG before having an operation. Others have one as part of a routine health check-up, even if there is no suspicion of heart disease.
Several small sticky patches are put on your arms, legs and chest. The patches, called ‘electrodes’, are connected to wires which lead to a recording machine. The recording machine picks up the electrical signals produced by each heartbeat. It records a few beats from each set of electrodes onto paper.
The ECG machine only records signals from your body. It does not give electric shocks and does not affect your heart in any way. The whole test takes about five minutes and will not be uncomfortable at all.
What can the test show?
An ECG can detect problems with your heart rhythm. It can sometimes show if a person has had a heart attack, either recently or some time ago. And sometimes it can show if the heart may be working under strain.
The ECG is a simple and useful test but it has some limitations. An abnormal reading does not always mean that there is something wrong. On the other hand, some people may have a normal ECG recording even though they do have heart disease.This is why you may need to have one or more other tests as well as the ECG.