An electrocardiogram checks how your heart is functioning by measuring the electrical activity of the heart.

What is an electrocardiogram?

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart using an ECG machine. Ten stickers containing electrodes are placed on your body at specific points while you are lying down.

This test helps determine heart rate, rhythm and oxygen supply. It can also help determine heart structure and electrolyte imbalances.

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What can I expect at my electrocardiogram appointment?

You do not have to restrict what you eat or drink before your ECG, although it is recommended that you not smoke just before the test. You will be asked to remove your jewelry and wear a hospital gown.

An ECG is a non-invasive procedure, which means that nothing is injected into the body. It is a painless procedure.

A number of electrodes are attached to various locations on your body including your arm, leg and chest. The electrodes are attached by small suction cups or adhesive patches. Sensors in the pads detect the electrical activity of your heart.

Results are most often recorded on graph paper and interpreted or read by your doctor or a technologist. The test usually takes 5 to 10 minutes.

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