Approximately 250,000 people in the US die each year as a result of a treatable but undetected heart rhythm disorder. Monitoring of the heart’s rhythm is the cornerstone of the diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias. In heart rhythm testing, the electrical activity of your heart is recorded to identify problems. Common heart monitoring techniques include:

  • Holter monitor (24h monitoring for days at a time)
  • Implantable loop recorders (months of continuous monitoring)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)


An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a simple and fast test to visualize the way the electricity flows through the heart. Small electrodes (plastic patches that stick to the skin) are placed at certain spots on the chest, arms, and legs. The electrodes are connected to an ECG machine by lead wires. The electrical activity of the heart is then measured, interpreted, and printed out.

Natural electrical impulses coordinate contractions of the different parts of the heart to keep blood flowing.  An ECG records these impulses to show how fast the heart is beating, the rhythm of the heartbeats (steady or irregular), and the strength and timing of the electrical impulses as they move through the different parts of the heart. EKGs are quick, safe, and painless. With this test, your doctor will be able to:

  • Check your heart rhythm
  • Check poor blood flow to your heart muscle (this is called ischemia)
  • Diagnose a heart attack
  • Check on things that are abnormal, such as thickened heart muscle
  • Detect if there are significant electrolyte abnormalities, such as high potassium or high or low calcium.

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