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Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Get fast access to an electrocardiogram (ECG) test to measure the electrical activity of your heart

Electrocardiogram (ECG) test on a male patient on a treadmill with pads stuck to his chest
An electrocardiogram (ECG) test is a safe and painless test to check your heart's rhythm and electrical activity. It helps diagnose and monitor conditions that affect your heart, including coronary heart disease, which is when your heart's blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances.

Your heart's electrical system

Your heart pumps blood around your body continuously, sending oxygen and nutrients to the right parts of your body to keep you alive. To pump your blood properly, your heart relies on a complex network of cells, often referred to as the heart's electrical system. An ECG detects the signals produced by your heart's electrical system to monitor your heart health and detect any issues with your heart.

After the test, your doctor will review the readings of the ECG machine, which usually appear as a series of electronic waves. Your consultant can build and tailor your cardiology treatment plan depending on the results of your ECG, helping to protect and improve your heart health.

An ECG is perfectly safe

The electrocardiogram is a safe, simple and painless test that typically takes less than fifteen minutes to carry out. There will be no electricity sent through your body during the test.

If you think you might need an electrocardiogram, you can book an appointment with one of our consultant cardiologists online or call us on 0141 300 5009.

The cost of a resting ECG test (non-cardiologist led) with Circle Health Group starts from £170*

The cost of a stress ECG test (cardiologist led) with Circle Health Group starts from £400*

The cost of an ambulatory ECG test with Circle Health Group starts from £265*

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your test and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

You might need an ECG test if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness and fatigue

An ECG test can detect and monitor the following heart conditions:


These happen when your heart beats irregularly, too slowly, or too quickly. These abnormalities can cause discomfort that ranges from mild to severe. An arrhythmia is often a symptom of a heart condition, such as cardiomyopathy, or a heart attack. 

Coronary heart disease

This happens when blood supply to your heart is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances that occur over time. Coronary heart disease can be managed through certain lifestyle changes, such as exercise and weight loss.

A heart attack

This happens when blood flow to your heart stops suddenly. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and fast treatment is needed to ensure as little damage as possible happens to your heart.


This happens when the walls of your heart chambers become stretched, thickened, or stiff. It affects your heart's ability to pump blood around your body, often resulting in dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Not only can an ECG detect several heart conditions, it can also monitor your general heart health to understand whether a medication for a diagnosed condition is working, or how an already diagnosed condition is affecting your heart. 

There is no preparation needed for an ECG test. You can eat and drink as normal before the test, and you do not need to make any lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or exercising more, before having it.

You will need to remove your upper clothing to have the test, and your chest might need to be shaved or cleaned for the electrodes to be properly attached to your skin. You will also be asked to remove any jewellery or other objects that might interfere with the tests. 

If you are having an exercise ECG test (which you can learn more about below), your consultant will make sure you know how to use the exercise equipment safely and properly beforehand.

The type of ECG you have will depend on your symptoms and how they are triggered. For example, if symptoms happen when you exercise, you will need an exercise ECG test. There are three different types of ECGs, which are:

  • Resting ECGs
  • Stress or exercise ECGs
  • Ambulatory ECGs

How are ECGs performed?

Each ECG test is performed differently.

A resting ECG test

During a resting ECG, you will be asked to lie down and rest on a bed in a comfortable position for around five minutes. Your consultant or healthcare professional will attach several small, sticky sensor pads, also known as electrodes, to your skin (usually across your chest and arms). These electrodes are connected by wires to an ECG test monitor that shows your heart rhythm and electrical activity as an electronic graph, or sometimes as printed on paper.

This test takes around fives minutes. Your consultant will be able to analyse and share your results there and then, but you will need a follow-up appointment to discuss your diagnosis and potential treatment options.

A stress or exercise ECG test

This is performed if you experience symptoms when you exercise or are under stress. Your consultant or healthcare professional will attach electrodes to your chest to wear while you're exercising on an exercise bike or treadmill. These electrodes will be connected to an ECG test monitor and results are displayed electronically. The speed and incline of the exercise equipment will be increased periodically to assess how your heart responds to exercise at different intervals. Your consultant or healthcare professional will show you how to use the equipment properly before you begin the test, so you will feel safe and prepared when exercising.

The length of time you will exercise depends on your target heart rate when exercising, which you will discuss with your consultant beforehand. Your consultant will be able to analyse and discuss your results on the day of the test, but you will need a follow-up appointment to explore your diagnosis and treatment options in more detail.

An ambulatory ECG test

The test involves your consultant or healthcare professional attaching several electrodes to your arms, legs, and chest. These are connected by wires to an ECG test recording machine, which shows your heart rhythm and electrical activity as an electronic graph, or sometimes printed on paper. During an ambulatory ECG, the recording machine will store information about your heart electronically. It is a small and portable device (no larger than a mobile phone), which you will be required to wear at your waist to monitor your heart at home for up to 14 days.

During this time, you will be encouraged to continue with life as normal and perform your everyday activities, such as work, shopping, and exercise, as you would before. It can be removed to shower (your consultant will show you how to put it back on after showering). You may be asked to record the times when you experience any unusual symptoms in a diary for your consultant to compare with the recording results after. The monitor will record all your heartbeats within the time of the recording.

Who can perform an ECG test?

All three types of ECGs can performed by a specialist cardiac physiologist, a consultant cardiologist, or even your GP. At Circle Health Group, we offer ambulatory and stress ECGs with our experienced consultant cardiologists, who are familiar with a broad range of heart problems and how to manage and treat them effectively.

If you're not sure what type of ECG you might need, don't worry. Your consultant will be able to assess your symptoms and determine which ECG is best suited to you.

There are no real risks associated with an ECG, because it is not a procedure, but a test to record and monitor your heart health.

You might have minor discomfort (similar to when removing a plaster or bandage) after removing the electrodes, but this should resolve naturally. You will be able to continue life as normal immediately after the procedure. 

There is no recovery period following an ECG test, because the test is non-invasive and has no major risks. You might have minor discomfort (similar to when removing a plaster or bandage) after removing the electrodes, but this should resolve naturally. 

You will be able to return to your normal daily activities on the same day as having your monitor removed and your results analysed.

If the results of your ECG show that you need further treatment, our Cardiology team will help you to find the best option for you.

At Circle Health Group, we offer a range of treatment options for heart problems, including:

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)

Angioplasty, also referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), uses a small inflatable balloon to widen or unblock your artery. It can improve blood flow to your heart and reduce angina (chest pains). Your consultant surgeon will also insert a stent (a metal mesh shaped like a tube) to ensure your artery remains open.

Coronary artery bypass

During this surgery, an incision will be made at the front of your chest. A blood vessel will be removed from a vein or artery in another part of your body. Your surgeon will attach this blood vessel to your coronary artery below or above the blockage. This improves your heart’s blood supply by diverting blood flow from clogged or narrowed arteries.

Catheter ablation

Ablation involves passing small tubes into your leg’s vein through which catheters (fine wires) are passed. These can then travel through your veins to your heart, allowing your cardiologist to locate the source of your problems. Radiofrequency energy (heat) or cryotherapy (freezing) is used to identify and remove the tissue in your heart that is causing problems. This in turn creates scar tissue, which can prevent an irregular heartbeat by blocking excess electrical signals that could cause problems. 


A pacemaker works by constantly monitoring your heart rate. It sends electrical pulses to your heart to ensure it beats at the correct speed and regularly. It can be inserted into your heart through a vein under your collarbone.

Find out more about the cardiology treatment options we offer at Circle Health Group.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in June 2022. Next review due June 2025.

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