An electrocardiogram test or (ECG) is a heart test that can detect cardiac abnormalities. It is one of the most common medical tests to determine whether your heart is healthy. It measures the electrical activity generated by the heart as it contracts.

An electrocardiograph is used to record the patient’s ECG. Sticky electrodes are placed on your chest, arms, and legs which help the electrocardiograph machine record an individual’s heart rhythm on paper.

The record obtained displays whether there is a shortage of oxygen in your heart or if you’ve damaged a heart muscle. It is read by a trained medical practitioner. It is a non-invasive, painless procedure and takes 5-10 minutes in totality to be performed.

How It Works

When a healthy heart is tested, the ECG shows a characteristic shape. The presence of irregularity in heart rhythm and rate or damage to the heart muscle can impact the electrical activity of the heart and lead to a change in the ECG shape from the one considered normal.

Candidates for ECG Tests

A doctor will ask you to have an ECG performed if your family has a history of heart disease, you are diabetic, smoke, are overweight, and have high cholesterol and blood pressure. Symptoms in people that can spur a doctor to recommend an ECG are – palpitations, dizziness, fainting, chest pain and shortness of breath.

ECGs are also performed to monitor the effects of certain heart-related medications and the general state of health in people who have existing heart problems.

Types of ECG Tests

An ETT or Exercise Tolerance Test consists of two ECG tests – one, performed when you are exercising and the second, when you’re at rest. Certain heart problems only appear when you put a stress on your heart. An ETT determines how your heart copes with stress.

A Cardiac Holter Monitoring Test identifies irregularities in heart rhythm. A small portable ECG machine is fixed onto you, to record your heart rate and rhythm for a 24-48 hour period.

Event Monitoring records heartbeat when you are dizzy, experiencing palpitations, blackouts, or chest pain.

What to Expect During the ECG Test

No food and drink restrictions apply for an ECG test. You should, however, Inform your doctor about any medications you are on before going ahead with an ECG test. If you’re allergic to adhesive tapes, your doctor may use other ways to secure the electrodes to your body.

The electrodes are attached to the chest and limbs with suction cups or sticky gel. As already discussed, these electrodes measure the electric currents generated by the heart and record this on a screen or paper.

The doctor can interpret the results of an ECG right away.

You can resume your daily activities right after an ECG as no anesthesia is used, so there is no recovery time required.

Get an ECG Test with a Certified Cardio Specialist

An ECG can detect a number of heart problems, including CHDs, arrhythmia, blocked arteries, pericarditis/myocarditis, abnormal heart positioning, lack of adequate blood supply to the heart and more. When you receive a test, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a cardio specialist who can deliver the information you need accurately to make sure the right steps are taken to rectify any problems that arise.

Contact Houston Cardiovascular Institute to schedule your test today!