What I learnt during an 24 & 48 ECG

If you, like me heard the words ’24hr ECG‘ and went into ‘panic mode’ don’t worry, you’re not alone! Thousands of people each year have this straightforward and noninvasive test,  It is the only way of for Doctors to uncover certain problems with the heart. Keep in mind, If your doctor recommends an ECG, it’s best to think of it as a simple investigation. 

There’s so much more to health than drinking green smoothies, having a low body fat and practising yoga. Last year I went to my GP and explained I was experiencing a constant feeling of tiredness, heart palpitations and increased heart rate and overall, I was hugely stressed, run down and fed up. I was booked in for a blood test and an electrocardiogram (ECG), which showed my heart rate as lower than expected. The next step was for my GP to redirect me to my local hospital for a 24-Hour ECG to check for any unusual activity, over a longer amount of time. 

I’m going to take a moment to remind you that I am not a qualified Dr, this is only my personal experience and you should always seek professional advice if you have any health concerns. 

Whilst I am confident my issues are related to my mental health, rather than any physical issues, but when I was preparing myself for my first ECG I was nervous and unsure what to expect. I found it hard to find practical advice on dealing with a 24hr ECG, Would everyone know? What should I wear? How should I sleep? 

I’ve since had another 24hr ECG as the first one didn’t record correctly, and I’m currently wired up on a 48hr ECG, it felt fitting to share some of the things I’ve learnt. 

*It’s not uncomfortable – The most important thing is to relax; continue as normal and if you’re anything like me, after a few hours you’ll forget it’s even there.

*A sports bra is more comfortable than a bra – This is entirely personal, but I feel that a sports bra keeps the cables closer to my body. Plus, a sports bra sits on the side sensors which makes it harder for them to be pulled out accidentally. 

*You can’t shower during an ECG, so how do you stay clean? – I’m under strict instructions not to get the ECG equipment wet, so how on earth can I stay clean?  Well, on the day of fitting I had a long shower, I’m washing my hair using a showerhead over the bath. Also, I firmly recommend using these ‘bed bath’ wipes, it’s not ideal but it’s a solution! 

*The only painful part is moving the ‘Electroplast’ –  The easiest explanation is that this is not unlike pulling off a plaster, I was advised to soak mine off in the bath or shower. Do not use cream or body oil on your upper body or chest before the fitting of an ECG, this makes it harder for them to fit the sensors. 

As you can see, there’s no visible sign of my ECG.

*They are more discrete than you realise– I’ve worn high necked tops and continued as normal, no one has noticed, especially as the recording device looks like a pedometer or pager.

*Make sure you return the ECG ASAP – If there’s a delay in returning your ECG once the 24,48 or 72 hours is complete, you could be stalling someone from using the device which leads to cancelled appointments. In simple terms, don’t be selfish and make the time to return hospital equipment promptly. 

*Don’t feel embarrassed about asking questions – Your Doctor/Nurse is there to help you, in the beginning, I had a whole list of questions. There’s no shame in wanting to understand the procedure and wanting basic peace of mind. 

*The first time I had an ECG I hardly slept – I couldn’t get comfortable, I was constantly worrying about moving abruptly and pulling out my cables. The second time I had an ECG, I realised if I wanted to sleep on my side, I could lay the monitor next to me – Voila! The result was a far more sound nights sleep, with one simple change. 

Helpful References: 

What is an ECG

Blood test and ECG may safely rule out a heart attack

Signs and Symptoms of a heart attack in women

Advice for a 24 OR 48 hour ECG

Have you ever had an ECG before? Any advice? 

Katie

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Please note that this is my own personal experience - Please check with your DR before if you have the slightest concern, if feel unwell or are unsure about any of the points mentioned in this post.  What works for me might not work for you. 

3 Comments

  1. January 31, 2018 / 10:36 am

    I had one a few times and I remember being worried and scared before the first one but in reality they are so easy and painless and they are great to see what’s going on! I love this post so thank you for sharing

  2. Nadine
    February 17, 2018 / 11:14 am

    this is the final stage for me! They haven’t found anything in the number of tests that I have had. Just waiting on an appointment to get all sorted

  3. Sera
    March 22, 2018 / 4:44 pm

    I too have a low heart rate and have been rushed to A&E 6 times this year as my condition mimics chest pain associated with a heart attack. It’s scary, panic inducing and unpleasant but I soon shall see a specialist and with luck, be on the mend.

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