An ECG is a test that is done to measure the heart’s electrical activity. This test can show if there are any abnormalities in the cardiovascular system that need medical attention. ECGs are considered safe tests that pose no risk, but it's important to note that some heart problems don't necessarily show up on them.
ECGs are done for several reasons. They can reveal whether or not there is any damage to the heart and show if there have been any changes to the heart due to pacemakers or medications that are used for heart problems. ECGs also provide information on whether or not heartbeats are normal and how quickly they occur. This type of test is typically done for those who have a history of heart problems, those with a family history of heart disease, and those who have chest pain. At POTENTRx, the doctors conduct ECG-monitored cardiovascular exercise stress tests and resting ECGs. Stress tests show how the cardiovascular system and other systems adjust to increased aerobic activity, while resting ECGs are done to check for cardiovascular abnormalities.
Having an ECG done doesn't cause any discomfort for most individuals. Some experience a cold sensation when electrodes are placed on their body. Others have skin irritation when the electrodes are removed, but this is typically a mild side effect.
ECG tests are generally safe, but it's important for clients to discuss any medications they’re taking ahead of time. Certain kinds of medications can affect the results of ECG tests. Individuals who are having an ECG done usually need to avoid working out right before their test. They should also avoid drinking cold water or other beverages before, since this can lead to unreliable results.
ECG tests with normal results generally show a heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute and a steady heart rhythm. Heart rate results outside this range or heart rhythm results that are inconsistent can occur for different reasons, such as damage to the heart, a heart defect, previous heart attacks, arrhythmia, or fluid around the heart.