An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test used to measure the rate and regularity of your heartbeat in order to see if it is functioning properly.
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 choose The London Clinic
Excellence in one place
We operate as teams of experts with world-class resources dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of medical care. You are surrounded by the latest treatments and advice with everything you need to get back to your best health.
Personal care, every time
Exceptional patient care is a way of life for us. Our nurses, clinicians and support teams are dedicated to the care of a very small number of patients, so have more time for you. They’ll be with you every step of the way, tailoring your care around you and giving the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re in the best hands.
We work together as one to guide you through each step of your experience, with complexities unravelled and answers readily to hand. Your personal treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
What's included in your package?
Choosing The London Clinic means your treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.
Your treatment package will include:
- Enhanced pre-admission assessment
- Your treatment with our complete care team at your fingertips
- Personalised aftercare and follow-up
We want you to be in control of your health. That’s why we also offer optional services such as comprehensive recovery packages and extra touches for you to choose from during your stay with us.
How to pay
- You can use private medical insurance (PMI) to access this treatment. We work with all major PMI providers in the UK and many internationally
- You can pay for yourself (self-pay)
- If you’re paying for yourself, we have finance options available with Chrysalis
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
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.
If a resting ECG doesn’t give your doctor enough data, he or she may recommend that you have an exercise ECG, also known as a stress test, which is done while you’re exercising in order to see how your heart performs under stress.
As with a resting ECG, an exercise ECG also involves sticking patches on your chest that are connected to a recorder.
However, rather than staying still, you’ll be asked to do some kind of exercise such as running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike.
Your doctor will start you off gradually and then increase the speed or intensity of the exercise, all while measuring your heartbeat every few minutes.
24-Hour ambulatory ECG
Also known as a Holter monitor or an ambulatory ECG, a 24-hour ambulatory ECG involves monitoring your heartbeat over a 24-hour period.
During this time, you’ll wear a portable receiver around your waist that is connected to electrodes on your chest.
This allows your doctor to monitor your heart’s activity over an extended period as you go about your normal activity.
It is not uncommon for your heart specialist to recommend a longer period of ECG recording beyond 24 hours (36 hours or even 7 days) to increase the chance of detecting a heart rhythm disturbance.
In most cases, your doctor will fit the recorder at a hospital, and you’ll then be able to go home and continue normal activity while keeping a diary of any symptoms you experience.