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:
1. Cholesterol clogging up your heart’s blood supply
2. A heart attack in the past
3. Enlargement of one side of the heart
4. 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.