An ECG or electrocardiogram is a simple test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity. Sensors attached to the skin are used to detect the electrical signals produced by your heart each time it beats. This ECG trace is taken by a trained technician. Small plastic disks(electrodes) which have wires that hook to an electrocardiograph machine are placed on the chest as you lie on the exam table. The electrical activity is recorded as waves on a graph, with different patterns corresponding to each electrical phase of the heartbeat.
These signals are recorded by a machine and are then transmitted to a cardiac centre of excellence for interpretation. Broomwell Healthwatch have already successfully interpreted over 2,000,000 ECGs and is now commissioned by over 100 CCGs / NHS Trusts / LCNs / GP federations / etc, interpreting some 4,500 ECGs per week. A cardiac expert will then interpret the ECG and send a full report within about 20-30 minutes.
A consistent heart rhythm and a heart rate between 50 and 100 beats per minute is normal. An irregular rhythm (arrhythmia), slow heart rate, or fast heart rate could indicate underlying conditions. Test results help in detecting structural abnormalities, irregularity in the heart rhythm, inadequate blood flow to the heart, heart attack, or damage to the heart muscle. ECGs are also often performed to monitor the health of people who plan to embark on vigorous sports or fitness programmes, those have been diagnosed with heart problems, to help assess artificial cardiac pacemakers or to monitor the effects of certain medications on the heart.