EKG, Holter Monitor, and Event monitor testing for arrhythmias
An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a diagnostic tool to measure and record the electrical activity of the heart. The heart’s muscles receive rhythmic electrical signals telling them when to contract. These impulses are recorded and documented on a strip of paper. Electrocardiograms are used to assess the heart’s function in cases of unexplained chest pain, symptoms of heart disease such as rapid heart rate and shortness of breath, and associated diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is also used to check the effectiveness of heart medications or implanted pacemakers.
You are made to lie down. Small sticky patches called electrodes are taped on to your skin on your chest, arms and legs to record the heart’s electrical activity. The electrodes are connected to the EKG machine, which translates the heart’s electrical impulses into wavy lines that can be printed. The same test may be performed while you are running on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to evaluate your heart’s function when under stress (stress test). The computerized test results are made available to your physician in less than 24 hours.
Electrocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive test that can be obtained through home health care service for the elderly or bedbound patients, to avoid the stress as well as the risks associated with hospital visits.
A 24-hour Holter monitor is a device that records the electrical activity of the heart including rate and rhythm over a 24-hour period. It consists of a battery-operated, portable device about the size of your palm which is connected by wires to electrodes placed on your chest.
The test records heart rhythms over a 24-hour period, to detect irregular heart activity that may not have shown up during a regular electrocardiogram at your doctor’s clinic. Based on the test results, your doctor determines if there is any delay in the electrical impulses of the heart or if the oxygen supply to the heart is adequate.
The Holter monitor is placed in a pouch that you can hang around your neck and remains connected to the electrodes fixed on your chest, recording data of your heart’s activity as you go about your daily activities. You are instructed to keep a log of your activities, or changes in mood and behavior so that your doctor can correlate this information with the data obtained from the monitor.
The monitor should be kept dry and you need to avoid magnetic or electrical fields that may alter the readings on the monitor. You will be taught to replace the electrodes should they come off.
After the 24-hour period your doctor will study the data obtained along with your activity log and decide on your diagnosis, treatment or need for further testing.