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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cardiothoracic Services

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Electrocardiogram Services

Electrocardiogram (ECG) Services is a part of the Cardiac Physiology Department. It carries out a range of diagnostic tests, on both adults and children, which diagnostic and prognostic evaluation for various medical conditions.

We are committed to providing an efficient service to all our patients.

Non-invasive investigations

ECG (Electrocardiogram)

ECG is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart. Six electrodes are placed on the chest and one electrode on each arm and leg. The electrical activity produced by the heart is received and recorded onto a chart. A trained cardiographer performs the procedure, which takes about ten minutes. The results help the patient's doctor to determine the rate and rhythm of the heart and also to diagnose other conditions.

Ambulatory ECG monitoring

Ambulatory monitoring manually records the electrical activity of the heart over a period of about 20 minutes.

A number of electrodes (depending on the device used) are placed on the chest and connected to a recording device. The patient can carry on as normal.

The patient's doctor can determine the rate and rhythm of the heart over the period of the recording. It can help with the diagnosis of various medical conditions and show how effective a treatment is.

24 Hour ECG Holter Monitoring

This is a continuous recording of the electrical activity of the heart, performed on people suspected of having an irregular heartbeat. The test helps the patient's doctor choose the correct treatment.

What is involved if you have the test?

  • Please allow 30 minutes for your appointment.
  • Disposable electrodes will be attached to your chest. These are connected to a lightweight recorder and your heartbeat will be recorded, usually for 24 hours.
  • During this time you can carry on as normal, but you will be given a diary to record any symptoms you have during the recording period. If you are a child your parent or guardian will keep a diary for you.
  • We advise you not to bath or shower whilst wearing the recorder.
  • You will be expected to return the recorder to the department the following day.
  • The results of the test will be sent you your consultant. If you wish to see them your consultant or GP can arrange this for you.

Cardiac Event Monitoring

A cardiac event monitor is used to detect irregular heart rhythms, or specific symptoms such as dizziness, faints, blackouts and palpitations. The department lends the equipment to the patient for a one or two week period; the patient can carry on living as normal, including taking baths or showers.

R Test Monitoring

A small, lightweight monitor is attached to the chest, using disposable electrodes, and records specific suspected irregularities in the heartbeat of which the patient may not be aware. Patients borrow the equipment for a week and return it by an agreed date.

Patient Activated Event Monitoring

This small, lightweight monitor is particularly useful for patients who are aware of their symptoms. It is attached to the chest using disposable electrodes.

The Cardiac Physiologist shows the patient how to make and transmit a recording.

What is involved if you have the test?

  • The monitors are discrete and can be worn under most clothing, although comfortable clothing is best.
  • Please allow 30 minutes for your appointment.
  • The results of the test will be sent you your consultant. If you wish to see them your consultant or GP can arrange this for you.
  • You will borrow the equipment for a week and return it by an agreed date.

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring records the blood pressure over a 24 hour period. A blood pressure cuff is placed around the arm and connected to a device that measures and records the blood pressure at regular intervals.

This test can diagnose conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and also measure the effectiveness of treatments.

24 Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

This test highlights problems with a patient's blood pressure and can help the patient's doctor choose the right treatment.

What is involved if you have the test?

  • A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm and this is connected to a small lightweight recorder.
  • The recorder is programmed to inflate and deflate the cuff every 30 to 60 minutes.
  • It is best to relax when this happens. It may be a little uncomfortable as the cuff inflates, but only for a few seconds, and the cuff remains deflated at other times.
    You will be given a diary to record any symptoms you may have during the recording period.
  • You will be expected to return the equipment to the department the following day.
  • Please allow 30 minutes for your appointment.
  • The results of the test will be sent you your consultant. If you wish to see them your consultant or GP can arrange this for you.

Exercise Tolerance Testing

This kind of investigation shows the effect of exercise on the heart. It is used to evaluate patients with suspected or known ischaemic heart disease (disease caused by a restricted blood supply due to blocked or constricted arteries). The patient's ECG and blood pressure are recorded throughout the procedure.

The patient is asked to walk on a moving belt (treadmill), and depending on their medical condition, the speed and incline of the treadmill increases every three minutes. Specially trained Cardiac Physiologists supervise the investigation.

In some cases a doctor is present at the test. The results are given to the patient's doctor, who can then diagnose ischaemic heart disease

Exercise Tolerance Test

This test shows how well the heart functions under stress. It can help detect heart problems such as angina. When symptoms, such as dizziness or palpitations, occur with exercise, it can identify abnormal heart rhythms. It can also show how effective treatments are.

The procedure involves walking on a moving belt (treadmill). The test has several stages, each lasting three minutes. At the end of each stage the treadmill increases in speed and incline. The patient is attached to an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the activity of their heart. The patient's blood pressure is recorded at regular intervals.

What is involved if you have the test?

  • If you have any difficulty walking, a stationary bicycle test can be performed.
    Your typical symptoms or a heart irregularity may be provoked by the test: a qualified Cardiac Physiologist or a doctor will be present in case this happens.
  • Please allow 30 to 40 minutes for your appointment.
  • Have a light meal at least an hour before the test.
  • Wear sensible shoes and comfortable clothes to walk in.
  • Bring a current list of any medication you are be taking.

Find us and contact us

  • ECG Department
    Level 2 John Radcliffe Hospital
    Headley way
    Headington
    Oxford OX3 9DU
  • Tel: 01865 220258
    Email: ECG.department@ouh.nhs.uk
  • Monday to Friday 8.00am - 5.00pm
    ECG Services Manager: Jen Cole

For maps of the hospital, information about transport and parking and contact details, please use the link below.

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