Private Electrocardiogram (ECG)
An electrocardiogram - or ECG - is a useful test which records the rhythm, rate and electrical activity of your heart.
It can help doctors tell if you’re having a heart attack or if you’ve had a heart attack in the past, diagnose an enlarged heart that’s under strain, fast, slow or irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias and valve disease.
An abnormal ECG reading doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with your heart, how your ECG looks could be normal for you (normal variant). An abnormal ECG often leads to further cardiac testing, an echocardiogram or longer monitoring maybe advised.
Why do I need an ECG?
A private ECG test is a safe way to evaluate and assess the electrical activity, rhythm and rate of your heart at rest. You may require one for any (but not inclusive) of the following reasons or symptoms:
Your doctor may have advised you because you have experienced –
Palpitations (when you can feel your heart thumping, pausing, or racing)
Irregular heartbeat, heart rate or irregular heart rhythm
Dizziness or blackouts
Shortness of breath
High blood pressure (to check for enlargement of the heart muscle)
You may have a family history of heart problems, heart disease or heart attack
You may want an ECG along with your echocardiogram scan for complete reassurance
You may have self-referred, this could be for any of the above reasons, or you may not have a known heart problem and just want reassurance as part of your own health screening and well-being
Our guides are also available in different languages and larger print. If you require a different version please do contact us so we may send you exactly what you need.
Before your appointment
No preparation is required for this test. The only thing we ask is that you avoid using oils or creams on your arms, legs and chest area the morning of your test. This just helps the electrodes to stick to your skin, giving a better electrode to skin contact, making analysis more accurate.
What to expect on the day?
You will need to remove or pull up your top, we recommend loose fitting clothing as we will need your chest, arms and ankles for this test. We have disposable gowns for your privacy if you require this. You will be lying on a couch on your back, you will not need to lie completely flat for this test. Your skin will be prepared by wiping the areas that the electrodes (small sticky patches) are going to be placed, this removes dry skin and natural oils allowing a good contact to be made, if you have a hairy chest we may need to shave the area. 10 electrodes in total will be placed on your chest, arms and ankles, cables from our ECG machine which pass the electrical signal will then be attached to the electrodes.
At this point all you need to do is relax and lie still, as our machines are very sensitive and will pick up muscle movement via tiny electrical impulses. The ECG recording is then digitally uploaded for analysis. Once the diagnostic test is over, the cables and the electrodes will be removed, and you will be free to get dressed.
The whole process takes no longer than 15 minutes to perform.
If you need additional support for any reason or because you speak a different language and will require an interpreter please let us know when you book your appointment. If you would like support from a friend, relative, or carer we are more than happy for them to attend the appointment with you
If patients need us to provide a chaperone or require a physiologist of a particular gender, please call us and we will arrange a suitable appointment.
How will I get my results?
Your ECG will be analysed. Several measurements need to be done and therefore the results are not available immediately after the test is complete. The results will be emailed to your referring clinician. If you have self-referred for this test, both yourself and GP will receive a copy. We aim to have your results to you within 3 working days. The results will tell you if any treatment is required.
On very rare occasions due to unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to cancel your appointment at short notice due to matters outside our control. We want to reassure you that a member of the team will be in contact with you at the earliest opportunity should we need to cancel your appointment to inform you and rebook.
Ambulatory ECG Monitoring
We also offer an ambulatory ECG monitor for our patients. These small, compact ECG machines are fitted by the patient and do not require a visit to our specialist centres. The machines take readings throughout the day whilst you are at work and at rest, and are ideal for patients who have irregular symptoms. These monitors can be worn for 24, 48 or 72 hours. More information can be found on our Ambulatory ECG page