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Do You Need an ECG Test?

The ECG is one of the most commonly used heart tests for both cardiac screening and diagnosis. However, it isn’t always the right test in every case. Your doctor can provide personalised advice on whether you should have an ECG, but read on to learn more about when this test may be needed.

ECG test

Reasons to Have an ECG

The ECG test measures the electrical activity in your heart that controls the way it beats. It can reveal some important information about your cardiac health. The most common reasons for having an ECG are:

  • To detect an arrhythmia and identify the cause
  • To check for enlargement caused by an issue such as high blood pressure
  • To look for evidence of a previous heart attack
  • As part of cardiac screening, especially if you are at higher risk of heart disease due to your age, health or medical history
  • If it is required for occupational screening, for example in order to obtain a taxi or pilot’s licence
  • During sports screening if you are an athlete or you want to start exercising safely

When an ECG is Not Needed?

Although the ECG can be a useful test for both heart screening and diagnosis, there are limits to what this test can reveal and it isn’t suitable for everyone. Your doctor might recommend a different approach under the following circumstances:

  • During a general check up if you are not likely to be at risk of heart disease, for example if you are a fit, healthy person under 40 with no family history of heart disease.
  • To look for blockages in your cardiac arteries, as these can’t be detected by an ECG.
  • If your doctor thinks that another cardiac test such as an echocardiogram is more appropriate for you because of your risk factors or symptoms.

It is important to ensure that you are getting the right screening tests so that you get the best insight into your health and avoid having any unnecessary tests. Although the ECG is completely safe and painless, it is best not to have more tests than you need as you could endure extra anxiety without gaining anything from the results.