This factsheet is for people who are having an electrocardiogram (ECG), or who would like information about it.
An ECG records the rhythm and the electrical activity of the heart. An ECG is a test used to find out if the heart is healthy.
You will meet the doctor, nurse or technician carrying out your procedure to discuss your care. It may differ from what is described here as it will be designed to meet your individual needs. Details of the procedure may also vary from country to country.
Click on the tabs below for more information about an electrocardiogram or go to our Heart page.
Published by Bupa's Health Information Team, April 2010.
An ECG is a simple test to record information about your heart beat. An ECG measures the electrical signals that cause your heat to beat. Wires are connected to your arms, legs and chest to pick up the electrical signals. These signals can be seen on a screen or are traced out on a piece of paper.
There are a number of reasons why you may need to have an ECG. You may have one:
An ECG can identify problems with your heart including:
There are a number of different types of ECG. These are listed below.
A standard ECG can usually be done in a doctor’s clinic and no preparation is normally needed for this.
If you're having an exercise ECG, 24-hour ECG or cardiac event monitoring you will need to go to hospital to have the test or have the equipment fitted. You should follow any instructions the hospital give you before your ECG.
You should wear comfortable clothes for an exercise ECG and don't have a heavy meal before the test. If you're taking certain medicines, for example beta blockers, you may be asked not to take them before an exercise ECG.
Your doctor, nurse or technician will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do by signing a consent form.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos and videos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.