Why It Is Done
Ambulatory EKG monitoring is done to:
- Look for and record irregular heartbeats that
occur intermittently or during certain activities.
- Find out what is
causing chest pain, dizziness, or fainting. These are symptoms of possible
- Look for poor blood flow to your heart muscle
- Check to see if treatment for an irregular heartbeat is
How To Prepare
Many medicines may change the results of this test. Be sure to tell
your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you
Since an EKG is often used to monitor a preexisting heart
condition, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), make sure that your
doctor has copies of any previous EKG results.
Take a shower or bath before the discs are put on. You will not be
able to get the discs wet during the test. Wear a loose blouse or shirt. Do not
wear jewelry or clothes with metal buttons or buckles, because these can
interfere with the recording. Women should not wear an underwire bra for the
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need
for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
For this test, you wear a lightweight, battery-operated tape
recorder (monitor) on a strap over your shoulder or around your waist. The
recorder is connected by wires to small metal discs (electrodes) taped to your
chest. The electrodes detect the electrical signals from your heart. A clock is
connected to the recorder so you can note what time it is when you have any
You will be fitted with the recorder and electrodes by a
technician in a doctor's office or hospital room.
- Several areas on your chest may be shaved and
cleaned, and then a small amount of electrode paste or gel will be applied to
- The electrode pads will then be attached to the skin
of your chest, with thin wires connecting the electrodes to the monitor.
- You may be hooked up briefly to a standard EKG machine to ensure
that the electrodes are working properly.
While wearing the continuous recorder, you will also be asked to
keep a diary of all your activities and symptoms, including the type of
activity you were doing and the time your symptoms started. In the diary, write
down the exact times when you exercise, climb stairs, eat, urinate, have a
bowel movement, have sex, sleep, get emotionally upset, take medicine, or
perform other activities. If you have any symptoms of heart problems, such as
dizziness, fainting, chest pain, or palpitations, push the event-marker button
on the recorder to mark it and write down the exact time and how long the
symptom lasts. For example, you might write: "12:30 p.m. Ate lunch. 1:00 p.m.
Argument with boss, had chest tightness for several minutes."