ECG and blood pressure

What are electrocardiograms (ECG) and blood pressure? What is measured and what do we use it for? (2022)

An ECG is a study of the heart where you get an overview of how the heart is shaped and positioned, how it beats and how the muscles in the heart wall work. An ECG can tell if the heart beats and functions as normal, or if there is a disease in the heart that needs further investigation or treatment.

How is an ECG examination performed?

The examination is performed by placing 12 electrodes around the body (on the ankles, wrists and left side of the chest). These are attached to a small machine which then reads the signals the heart sends. Each of these elements is used to interpret the function of the different parts of the heart, and one can thus say whether the heart beats normally and is well or whether there is something abnormal with the function of the heart.

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What is an ECG used for?

ECG can be used to investigate chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs or as a control in connection with the start / use of some types of medication that can affect the heart rhythm.

The examination can be divided into 3 types:

The resting electrocardiogram
The resting ECG is used to see how the heart is doing here and now. If you experience, for example, chest pain or palpitations that are constant, this is a good examination.

24-hour ECG (Holter monitor)
If, on the other hand, you have discomfort or palpitations that come and go a little, and you are not able to catch it with just one examination, it may be an indication for a 24-hour ECG (Holter monitor). Then you get a portable monitor that will record your heart rate over a longer period of time (usually 24 hours, sometimes longer). This examination must usually be done by a cardiologist, as it often requires specialist experience. The patient can be referred to a cardiologist, if necessary, by our GPs.

Work ECG
Some people experience discomfort from the heart and breathing during physical activity, and this may be an indication to do a work ECG. Then you will be connected to an ECG machine while sitting on an exercise bike, and your heart activity will be recorded while you ride. This is not done in general practice and the patient is therefore referred to the cardiology department if necessary.

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Blood pressure - what is it and how does it work?

Blood pressure is the pressure that the blood gives against the artery wall. It is highest in the large veins closer to the heart, and lowest in the smallest veins furthest from the heart. When we talk about "blood pressure" in general, it is the pressure in the larger veins we are talking about.

It is important to have an approximately normal blood pressure, as both too low and too high blood pressure can cause symptoms and ailments. We are more concerned about high blood pressure as this can lead to more serious sequelae in cardiovascular disease. If you have hypertension / high blood pressure in your close family, you are more prone to get this yourself. In these cases, you usually know about it yourself and already have a dialogue with your GP about this.

How do you measure your blood pressure and what are normal values?

Blood pressure is measured by attaching a cuff quite tightly around the upper arm, then inflating it so that it shuts off the blood flow. The machine then releases the pressure and first registers the pressure in the years when the blood flows through again (called "systolic pressure" or "overpressure"), and then the pressure in the veins when the blood flow can no longer be measured (called "diastolic pressure" or "negative pressure").

  • Normal values: The normal values are around 100-120 mmHg in overpressure and around 60-80 mmHg in underpressure, and are written 120/80 mmHg.
  • High values: High blood pressure (hypertension) is an overpressure of more than 140 mmHg and / or negative pressure of more than 90 mmHg. There are different degrees of severity of high blood pressure, and the degree determines whether it should be treated with medication or not.
  • Low values: Too low blood pressure (hypotension) is hypertension below 100 mmHg and / or negative pressure below 60 mmHg. This can make you dizzy, nauseous, tired, palpitations and have reduced strength.

How can Dr.Dropin help you with ECG and measuring blood pressure?

All Dr. Dropin's clinics are equipped with equipment to take a resting ECG and measure blood pressure, and doctors perform these tests where they deem it necessary. If you are healthy, take no medication and have no ailments, it is not necessary to take an ECG or measure your blood pressure. If, on the other hand, you have chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, have a headache, etc., it may be an indication to check your heart function and blood pressure.

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If you experience acute onset, severe pain in the center of the chest or back, you should contact the emergency services at 113 for quick help.

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Frequently asked questions

Who should check their heart with an ECG?

Those who have symptoms with chest discomfort, pain, palpitations, shortness of breath at rest / at low activity, should have their heart checked. If, on the other hand, you experience acute, severe pain in the chest, you must contact 113 for quick help.

How safe is an ECG, can you trust it to show a possible disease?

ECG is a safe examination. If the examination is completely normal, it is most likely something other than the heart that gives you the ailments you have. Sometimes the ailments are not present all the time, and an ECG will not be able to detect it if you do not have symptoms when the examination is taken. Then you can be referred for an examination where the heart is observed for a longer period of time.

Should I check my blood pressure from time to time to see if it's OK?

It is not necessary to check your blood pressure just to see if it is ok. If you have other diseases such as diabetes, metabolic problems, are cardiovascular or experience ailments such as dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, it is good to check your blood pressure.

Is high blood pressure a disease and can it be cured?

High blood pressure in itself is not a disease, but it can be caused by an underlying disease or lead to disease, and should therefore be taken seriously.

My grandparents had high blood pressure, will I get it too?

Sometimes hypertension is hereditary, but then you usually get it at a young age. With age, the blood vessels become a little stiffer and some thus also experience that the pressure in the blood vessels rises. Diet and lifestyle also affect blood pressure. A condition with high blood pressure due to old age and lifestyle is not hereditary.

Author: Lege Martine Hallin Henriksen
Last updated: 22.06.2022


Hunskår, S., (2017), Hjerte og kretsløp i Allmennmedisin, Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, side 305-347

Norsk Elektronisk Legehåndbok, (2020), Hypertensjon, (online), tilgjengelig fra, hentet 29.06.2020

Store Medisinske Leksikon (2019, Blodtrykk, (online), tilgjengelig fra:, hentet 29.06.2020.