An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test used to monitor the electrical signals of the heart. Your doctor can use the patterns recorded to diagnose heart conditions such as:
- irregular rhythm of the heart
- heart defects
- heart valve problems
- heart artery problems
- heart attack
In addition, this test can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of heart medications or devices, such as a pacemaker.
Your doctor will decide when it might be appropriate for you to undergo this test.
Screen showing the results of an electrocardiogram.
Risks and precautions
This is a very safe procedure. There is no risk of electric shock. Very rarely, people may experience slight irritation (such as skin redness or swelling) due to the electrodes touching the skin.
Before the test
You should avoid drinking cold water or exercising right before your test since these activities can alter the results of your test. You should also remove all jewelry during the test.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the test. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.