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Heart Disease Health Center

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Ambulatory Electrocardiogram

How It Feels

If you have electrodes on your skin, those places may itch slightly during the test. 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. So there is no chance of getting 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 normal activities.

Results of ambulatory EKG monitoring usually are looked at by a cardiologist or cardiac electrophysiologist. The results are most often available in a few days.

Ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) 1

No abnormal heart rhythms are found. Your heart rate may go up when you are active and go down when you are sleeping.


Many kinds of abnormal heartbeats can be found by ambulatory monitoring.

  • Abnormal slow, fast, or irregular heart rhythms are found. Alternating slow and fast rhythms may also occur now and then.
  • A slow heart rhythm in a person with a pacemaker may mean that the pacemaker is not working as it should.
  • Abnormal patterns may mean that the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. This is called ischemia. It may happen if the arteries feeding the heart are too narrow.

The results of this test are compared with your medical history, symptoms, and other test results. You may need to have the test again if the results aren't clear.

What Affects the Test

The test results may not be accurate or helpful if:

  • You do not keep a detailed diary of your daily activities and symptoms.
  • You don't start the recorder when you have symptoms. The intermittent recorder will give accurate results only if you start the recorder when you have symptoms of possible heart problems.
  • The electrodes are not in the right spot.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 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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