How It Feels
If you have electrodes placed on your skin, the electrode sites may itch slightly during the ambulatory EKG
recording, and the skin on your chest may look or feel irritated when the
electrodes are removed. The recording unit is very lightweight, so carrying it
usually is not uncomfortable.
There is no risk from ambulatory EKG monitoring. The electrodes
placed on your skin detect only the electrical signals from your heart. No
electricity is sent through your body, and there is no possibility of receiving
an electric shock.
An ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that records
the electrical signals that control your heartbeat while you do your everyday
Results of ambulatory EKG monitoring usually are interpreted by a
cardiologist or cardiac electrophysiologist. The results are generally available in a
Ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)1
No abnormal heart rhythms are found in the EKG information
collected by the recorder. Your heart rate may go up when you are active and go
down when you are sleeping.
Many kinds of irregular heartbeats can be detected by
- Abnormal slow or fast heart rhythms are
detected. Alternating slow and fast rhythms may also occur
- A slow heart rhythm in a person with a
pacemaker may mean that the pacemaker is not working
- Abnormal patterns may mean that the heart muscle is not
getting enough oxygen (ischemia) because the arteries feeding the heart are too
The results of ambulatory heart monitoring are compared with your
medical history, symptoms, and other test results. You may need to have the
test repeated if the results aren't clear.
What Affects the Test
You may not be able to have the test or the results may not be
- You do not keep a detailed diary of your daily
activities and symptoms. The intermittent recorder will give accurate results
only if you remember to start the recorder when symptoms of possible heart
- The electrodes are not in the right spot.
monitoring is most effective when you are able and willing to carefully follow
instructions throughout the monitoring period.
If you tend to pass out from a heart problem, your doctor will choose a monitor that will record these episodes. The
continuous recorder and the loop recorder work best for people who pass out
when they have symptoms of a heart problem. The loop recorder is not useful if
you lose consciousness for more than a few minutes or if you are so confused
when you wake up that you are unable to start the recorder.
What To Think About
- Many people have irregular heartbeats from time
to time. What this means depends on the type of pattern these heartbeats
produce, how often they occur, how long they last, and whether they occur at
the same time you have symptoms. Irregular heartbeats that occur at the same
time you have other symptoms, such as dizziness or chest pain, may mean that
the irregular heartbeats are causing your symptoms.
- Because a
standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) is safe, inexpensive, and provides
valuable information, your doctor will try it first before using an ambulatory
monitor to test your heart function. A continuous recorder generally has 5
leads and provides less complete information than a 12-lead EKG. But a
continuous recorder is more effective than a standard EKG for evaluating heart
symptoms that occur intermittently. For more information, see the topic