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Arrhythmia

How is Arrhythmia Diagnosed

Many different techniques are used to diagnose arrhythmia.  The techniques include: 

  • A standard electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).  An EKG is the best test for diagnosing arrhythmia. This test helps doctors analyze the electrical currents of your heart and determines the type of arrhythmia you have.
  • Holter monitoring.  Holter monitoring gets a continuous reading of your heart rate and rhythm over a 24-hour period (or more). You wear a recording device (the Holter monitor), which is connected to small metal disks on your chest. With certain types of monitors, you can push a "record" button to capture a rhythm when you feel symptoms. Doctors can then look at a printout of the recording to find out what causes your arrhythmia.
  • Trans telephonic monitoring.  Transtelephonic monitoring documents problems that may not be detected within a 24-hour period. The devices used for this type of test are smaller than a Holter monitor. One of the devises is about the size of a beeper, the other device is worn like a wristwatch. Like with Holter monitoring, you wear the recording device. When you feel the symptoms of an arrhythmia, you can telephone a monitoring station, where a record can be made. If you cannot get to a telephone during your symptoms, you can turn on the device's memory function. Later, you can send the recorded information to a monitoring station by using a telephone. These devices also work during episodes of fainting.
  • Electrophysiology studies (EPS).  Electrophysiology studies are usually performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory. In this procedure, a long, thin tube (called a catheter) is inserted through an artery in your leg and guided to your heart. A map of electrical impulses from your heart is sent through the wire to find out what kind of arrhythmia you have and where it starts. During the study, doctors can give you controlled electrical impulses to show how your heart reacts. Medicines may also be tested at this time to see which medicines will stop the arrhythmia. Once the electrical pathways causing the arrhythmia are found, radio waves can be sent through the catheter to destroy them. 
  • A tilt-table exam. A tilt-table exam is a way to evaluate your heart's rhythm in cases of fainting. The test is noninvasive, which means that doctors will not use needles or catheters. Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored as you lie flat on a table. The table is then tilted to 65 degrees. The changing angle puts stress on the area of the nervous system that maintains your heart rate and blood pressure. Doctors can see how your heart responds under carefully supervised conditions of stress.

Back to Arrhythmia

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