An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a quick, non-invasive test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. An ECG provides an instant snapshot of your heart’s activity and is performed whilst you are at rest (laying down).
An ECG is commonly performed on people experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, fainting, or palpitations. It can also be used to monitor the effects of various medications on the heart, the effectiveness of pacemakers, and the health of individuals with diagnosed heart conditions.
Having a ECG is straightforward. Follow our step-by-step guide below to know what to expect.
Step 1: When to see your doctor
If your doctor thinks it would be beneficial to perform an ECG, they will give you a request form to bring to us. This is a good time to tell the doctor about any symptoms you are experiencing and ask any questions you may have.
Next, you’ll need to book an appointment at one of our collection centres to have your ECG performed. ECGs are performed at select collection centres. Appointments can be booked directly with the collection centre.
Appointments for ECGs are essential as the collector who performs your ECG has received specialised training and booking in advance ensures that a trained person will be available.
It is strongly suggested that you make contact with your preferred ECG collection centre to confirm their booking process to avoid disappointment.
ECGs are performed Monday to Friday. We understand that life is busy and you have many commitments and we will do our best to accommodate your needs as much as possible. When you phone to make a booking please discuss your specific requirements. This is the perfect time to discuss payment.
There is a Medicare rebate available for eligible patients and an out-of-pocket fee is payable unless there are special circumstances at the time of the test. The preferred payment option is by credit card.
To best prepare for your appointment, there are a few things you can do.
To best prepare for your appointment, please:
- Avoid using any moisturising lotions, powders, spray deodorants or perfumes as these can reduce the quality of the ECG tracing.
- Wear two-piece clothing to make it easier to perform the test and for your comfort.
- Bring a list of any medications you are taking.
Patients may require little patches of hair to be shaved to ensure the sticky electrodes can adhere to the skin and provide a good quality test. Your collector will shave any areas if required.
You will be connected to an ECG machine by one of our trained pathology collectors.
The person performing your ECG will start by taking your height and weight.
You will need to remove your shirt and any jewellery that will come into contact with the sticky dots that go on your chest, wrist, and ankles during the test.
When ready, you will be asked to lay flat on your back on a procedural bed. If necessary, the ECG can be performed sitting upright if you are unable to lay flat on your back. You will be provided with a blanket for warmth and privacy.
The collector will then prepare your skin so that the electrodes, which are 10 sticky dots, can be placed. This preparation may include shaving small parts of your chest if necessary. Good adherence depends on thorough skin preparation and this is essential for achieving a good quality tracing.
Six electrodes will be applied to your chest area and four to your limbs. A lead will then be attached to each electrode which connects you to the ECG device.
The collector will take a few moments to prepare the ECG device before capturing your ECG. It is important that you lay as still as possible and do not talk during the procedure. Capturing the ECG is very quick and will only take a few seconds. The collector will review the tracing and if necessary, may repeat the ECG to ensure it is of the best quality.
Once the collector is satisfied with the tracing, they will remove the electrodes from your skin. You will be able to redress and leave the centre.
Upon leaving the collection centre, your ECG will be transmitted to a team of scientists and cardiologists for review.
Our team of scientists and cardiologists review your ECG and write a report for your doctor with a summary of the findings and a copy of the tracing. It is sent via secure electronic transmission, normally within 24-hours of the test being performed (Monday -Friday).
Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about your report. You play an important role in making sure your diagnosis is correct. Make sure you tell them everything you think might help and do everything you can to ensure the information you provide is accurate.
You need to make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to go through your results.
Allow 1-2 working days after your ECG before seeing your doctor to ensure they have received your results. Your doctor will contact you if any urgent follow up is required.
Need help? Contact your collection centre
To contact the collection centre that fitted your device, please see the contact details in your information pack, or click here to search for the location and contact details via our locations map.