ECG

Skip the primary navigation if you do not want to read it as the next section.


Primary navigation

Skip the main content if you do not want to read it as the next section.


ECG (electrocardiogram) and high blood pressure

ECG (electrocardiogram) and high blood pressure


An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test which measures the electrical activity of your heart to show whether or not it is working normally.

An ECG records the heart’s rhythm and activity on a moving strip of paper or a line on a screen. Your doctor can read and interpret the peaks and dips on paper or screen to see if there is any abnormal or unusual activity.


What can an ECG (electrocardiogram) show?

An electrocardiogram can be a useful way to find out whether your high blood pressure has caused any damage to your heart or blood vessels. Because of this, you may be asked to have an ECG when you are first diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Some of the things an ECG reading can detect are:

  • cholesterol clogging up your heart’s blood supply
  • a heart attack in the past
  • enlargement of one side of the heart
  • abnormal heart rhythms

How is an ECG carried out?

An ECG (electrocardiogram) is a safe and painless test which normally only takes a few minutes.

Leads from an electrocardiograph machine are attached to the skin on your arms, legs and chest using sticky patches. These leads read signals from your heart and send this information to the electrocardiograph. The machine then prints the reading on a paper strip or on a screen.

There are three main types of ECG: 

  • Resting ECG – if your doctor is interests in how your heart is working while you are at rest, you will be asked to lie down and relax while the heartbeat is being recorded.
  • Exercise ECG – your doctor may be interested in how your heart reacts to activity and you will be asked to walk or run on a treadmill or cycle on an exercise bike while your heartbeat is recorded.
  • 24-hour ECG – sometimes it can be helpful to monitor your heartbeat throughout the day, in which case you will be asked to wear a small electrocardiograph machine. The recordings from the machine are then read by your doctor when you return the machine.

Who will carry out my electrocardiogram?

You may be able to have your ECG in your GP surgery. However not all surgeries have this equipment so you may be referred to a local hospital to carry out the test.


Is there anything I need to do before an ECG (electrocardiogram)?

If you are having a resting ECG, there is no need to do anything different before having the test.

If you are having an exercise ECG, make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes and shoes that you can exercise in. It is also helpful to avoid eating a meal or drinking a caffeinated drink for two hours before the test because these can affect your heart’s rhythm.




Blood Pressure Information Line

Call 0845 241 0989

High blood pressure medicines

If you have been given medicines, we have an area that explains why. It also looks at what the medicines do and how you can get the best out of them

Medicines for high blood pressure
The Charity Awards 2008 Winner

The Charity Awards 2008 Winner


Lottery funded

The following page sections include static unchanging site components such as the page banner, useful links and copyright information. Return to the top of page if you want to start again.


Page Extras

EmailPage to a friend

Skip the main banner if you do not want to read it as the next section.


Page Banner

Accessibility
Blood Pressure UK Home page
Helping you to lower your blood pressure

End of page. You can return to the page content navigation from here.