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Ambulatory Electrocardiogram

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 activities.

Results of ambulatory EKG monitoring usually are interpreted by a cardiologist or cardiac electrophysiologist. The results are generally available in a few days.

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 ambulatory monitoring.

  • Abnormal slow or fast heart rhythms are detected. Alternating slow and fast rhythms may also occur occasionally.
  • A slow heart rhythm in a person with a pacemaker may mean that the pacemaker is not working correctly.
  • Abnormal patterns may mean that the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen (ischemia) because the arteries feeding the heart are too narrow.

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 helpful if:

  • 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 problems occur.
  • The electrodes are not in the right spot.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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