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Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures the heart’s electrical activity. The process typically involves placing electrodes on the patient’s chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes then pick up electrical signals that the heart produces as it pumps blood around the body.
Such signals are then recorded by the ECG machine which displays everything on a monitor. The result can also be printed out on paper. ECG tests in Singapore are commonly performed to diagnose heart conditions, assess the effectiveness of a treatment for certain heart conditions, and monitor overall heart health.
In this article, you’re going to get an overview of ECG tests, how it is performed, what kind of heart conditions they can help diagnose and get some tips on how you can find a qualified specialist to do your ECG testing in Singapore.
When is an ECG Test Used in Singapore?
There are varied reasons why a cardiologist or any other heart specialist would require an ECG test. Most of the time, it is done to diagnose heart conditions or test the effectiveness of certain treatments. This test can be performed in a clinic or hospital setting as part of a routine checkup or if a patient is experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain. Just like anywhere in the world, an ECG test in Singapore is a safe and noninvasive procedure.
How to Prepare for an ECG Test
Unlike other tests, there is usually no special preparation that you need to go through to be ready for an ECG test. Usually, you can eat and drink like you normally do before the test. You will also be allowed to take your prescribed medications.
Just be ready to remove any upper clothing or jewelry right before the test especially if they would interfere with the spots where electrodes will be placed. If you have chest hair, you may need that area of your chest shaved so the electrodes can be placed properly.
You will also be asked to lie down on an examination table and be asked to relax and stay still while the test is ongoing. Any movement can affect the result’s accuracy so be sure to relax and stay calm. Overall, the test is going to be a quick and painless process which takes only a few minutes to complete.
The Procedure for an ECG Test in Singapore
The process involved in an ECG test in Singapore is just the same as the ones done in other countries. It needs to be performed by a trained healthcare professional.
The healthcare professional who’s going to perform the test will clean or shave your skin and apply a conductive gel to the areas where the electrodes are going to be placed. The electrodes are attached to your chest, arms, and legs with the use of adhesive pads. Be sure to lie still while the ECG machine is recording the activity of your heart.
After a few minutes, the test will be finished and the electrodes will be removed. The recorded ECG trace will then be analyzed by your doctor. Listen to what the healthcare professional is telling you and follow every instruction to ensure the accuracy of the ECG test result.
The Benefits of an ECG Test
Going through an ECG test can provide valuable information about the heart’s function and overall health. With it, certain heart conditions can be detected so that your cardiologist can give advice on the medications that you need to take or recommend any other procedure that you must go through. Oftentimes, it is conducted along with other tests to investigate symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
An ECG also helps in the detection of heart conditions like:
- Heart attacks – ECG helps point out the part of the heart where the blood supply is suddenly blocked
- Cardiomyopathy – A condition where the walls of the heart either become thick or gets enlarged
- Arrhythmias – Irregular beating of the heart ( i.e very slow beating, too quick, or irregular heartbeats)
- Coronary heart disease – A condition where the blood supply to the heart is blocked or interrupted due to a build-up of fatty plaques.
Your cardiologist or attending physician might require you to take a series of ECGs over time especially if you’re taking a medication that has potential effects on the heart or you’ve been diagnosed with a certain heart condition.
The Risks and Limitations of an ECG Test
One limitation that an ECG test has is that it only provides information on the electrical activity of the heart. It is not able to provide other information such as the heart’s blood flow and overall structure. These aspects of heart health need other tests such as cardiac MRI or echocardiogram.
Another potential limitation of an ECG test is the difficulty in interpretation that could sometimes happen. This is true for patients who are taking medications or have certain medical conditions that affect the activity of the heart. In such cases, the cardiologist or attending physician might request further testing, investigation, and evaluation.
However, when used in conjunction with other tests, an ECG test in Singapore can provide valuable information which can help diagnose and treat certain heart conditions.
Interpreting the Results of an ECG Test
Several aspects of the ECG such as heart rate, rhythm, and waveform will be examined by a healthcare professional in order to derive a proper diagnosis.
- Heart Rate – In order to know how many times the heart beats per minute or what is also called bpm, the number of tall peaked waves on the ECG tracing (QRS) within a specific period of time is examined. A normal heart would typically beat between 60 to 100 times in a minute.
- Rhythm – Within the ECG tracing, the rhythm of the heart is determined by looking into the regularity of the QRS complexes. A normal (sinus) rhythm should show regular intervals of the QRS complexes.
- Waveform – This is determined by the shapes and amplitude of the different waves in the ECG tracing result. Both the shape and amplitude of the waves provide valuable information in conjunction with the other aspects mentioned above in diagnosing certain heart conditions.
ECG analysis should only be done by someone who has experience and expertise in the interpretation of ECG results, this will usually be a cardiologist.
Follow-Up Care and Ongoing Monitoring After an ECG Test
Once the ECG results come out, the cardiologist or healthcare professional will discuss it with the patient. This is where any abnormal findings or recommended follow-up care as well as ongoing monitoring will be recommended.
In some cases, a patient might be required to go through further testing in order to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. This may include imaging tests, diagnostic testing, or an additional ECG test.
If any concerning signs such as an abnormal heart rhythm have been detected, the cardiologist might recommend certain medications or treatments in order to manage the condition. Other recommendations like daily exercise, lifestyle change, or eating a healthy diet will be given along with avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
Ultimately, ongoing monitoring and follow-up care largely depend on the patient’s needs and the result of the ECG test. In clinics like the Harley Street Heart and Vascular Center, we ensure that you get a proper diagnosis and our recommended experts help in developing ongoing care and monitoring which are all aimed at managing your heart condition and improving overall heart health.
Finding the Right Specialist for ECG Testing in Singapore
Before you look for a specialist to perform an ECG test in Singapore, you may need to ask for a referral from your primary care provider. You can also do an online search within search engines or directories and as well as ask a friend, family member, or a doctor friend for any recommendation.
Another option is to contact a hospital or clinic. You can then ask if they have someone who specializes in ECG testing and has experience in such diagnostic tests as well as its overall cost. The Harley Street Heart and Vascular Centre has a team of dedicated heart health specialists who are trained and experienced in performing several tests to ensure proper treatment and overall heart health.
The best way to find the right specialist for your ECG test in Singapore highly depends on your preferences and individual needs. Factors such as location and distance of the medical center itself would matter if you have a heart condition that prohibits you from traveling far distances.
Lastly, your overall budget should also be considered. Choose a qualified and experienced specialist to ensure that your ECG test is performed the right way with its results interpreted accurately.
How Much Does an ECG Test Cost in Singapore?
The cost of an ECG test in Singapore can vary based on a number of factors. It can range anywhere between $30 to $100:
- Type of ECG test performed – Some specialists may require further tests to be performed which will ultimately add to the cost.
- The specialist performing the test – There are specialists who would charge a higher fee or additional charges for interpreting the results or providing a more detailed report.
- Your health Insurance coverage – If the ECG test is performed as part of a routine health examination or aimed at diagnosing specific medical conditions, it may be covered as part of your health insurance. In this case, your insurance provider may cover all the costs or just part of it.
An ECG test is an important part of diagnosing any heart problem. If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart condition, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at +65 6235 5300 or send us an email to set an appointment with one of our recommended heart doctors in Singapore.
Written by: Dr Michael MacDonald MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP (UK), MD (Research), FESC (Europe). Dr MacDonald was trained in the UK and is a senior Consultant Cardiologist.