Cardiac ECG Monitoring

What is Cardiac ECG Monitoring?

Cardiac ECG Monitoring refers to recording the electrical activity in the heart by placing electrodes on your skin to assess a patient’s cardiac rhythm.  ECG stands for ElectroCardioGraphy – this refers to the recording of electrical activity in the heart. An ECG tracing can be performed with a single or multiple skin electrodes, for an extended period of time, depending on what your physician recommends.

Why is this test performed? 

Normal heart rhythm is referred to as normal sinus rhythm (NSR). This rhythm includes a pattern of depolarization through the chambers of the heart, giving rise to electrical impulses that can be measured. The characteristic ECG depicts normal sinus rhythm.
Problems with the heart can throw off its pumping mechanisms and therefore the normal depolarization pattern. ECG monitoring can help detect what the problem is. Indications for ECG monitoring include, but are not limited to, chest pain, palpitations, syncope, fainting, shortness of breath, or myocardial infarction/heart attack.  

How is this test performed?

An ECG is performed with 12 leads attached to the skin. Electrodes are sticky patches, each with a wire attached to a monitor. The twelve leads are typically placed on the chest, abdomen, and legs. The procedure itself lasts a few minutes while it records your heart rhythm. 

What should I expect during this test?

You will be given a gown to keep you comfortable during your ECG, though you do not have to wear it if you prefer not to. You will, however, be required to remove your shirt and stockings. Women can keep their bra on during the procedure. Men may need have some chest hair shaved if the electrodes have trouble sticking.
The procedure is quick and there are no special requirements for the patients. Breathe normally and lie still as movement can cause artifacts that distort the results of your ECG. 

How do I prepare for this test?

No special preparation is required before having an ECG.

Are there risks associated with Cardiac ECG Monitoring?

There are no known risks from ECG monitoring.