An electrocardiogram (ECG) records the tiny electrical impulses that are spread through the heart muscle with the use of an ECG machine. ECG machines are used when patients are presenting with heart palpitations or chest pain, however they are also often used before routine examinations to check general heart health.
Electrocardiograms detect the electrical impulses coming from the different directions of the heart. There are normal patterns for each of these directions, however if the patterns are abnormal, it may be indicative of a heart disorder. Having an ECG test can detect heart disorders such as abnormal heart rhythms, myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) or an enlarged heart (which basically causes larger impulses than normal to be recorded).
Having an ECG test is painless and absolutely harmless, as it does not put any electrical impulses into your body; it only records the electrical impulses coming from your body. This is a common misconception, however the procedure is entirely safe.
Stress testing is also known as a ‘stress echo’. It’s performed to investigate either known or suspected coronary artery disease, chest pain, or shortness of breath. It’s a necessary requirement for heavy vehicle and aviation licenses, as well as part of pre-anaesthetic workups.
Please speak to your doctor to see whether they believe an ECG test or stress test could be beneficial or necessary for you.