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Resource type: Article

Heart monitor (ECG)

What does the heart monitor or ECG do?

Heart or ECG (electrocardiography) monitors show the electrical activity of the heart.  It is monitored using electrodes or “sticky dots” on the chest. Heart or ECG monitoring tells us about the heart rate and heart rhythm (both of which can sometimes be abnormal and require treatment).

What is a "12 lead ECG"?

In some cases (e.g. if a patient has an irregular heart rhythm or we are worried that they may be having an angina or heart attack), we may carry out a more detailed ECG known as a “cardiogram” or “12 lead ECG”. This involves attaching some extra electrodes or “sticky dots” on the chest, arms and legs. This more detailed test can give us more information about the type of irregular heart rhythm so that we can give the right medication or treatment. It can also tell us whether the patient is having an angina attack or whether he or she has suffered damage to the heart muscle (heart attack).

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