How do you screen your heart rhythm?


Quick Answer

Electrocardiography, Holter monitors, treadmill tests and transtelephonic monitors are four techniques that identify irregularities in heart rate, or arrhythmia, according to the American Heart Association. All of these tests are non-invasive and painless.

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Full Answer

To perform an electrocardiogram, a doctor places electrodes on the arms, legs and chest to track the heart's electrical activity, writes the American Heart Association. The machine records the results on paper or on a computer. A doctor analyzes the rate and regularity of heartbeats from this output.

For patients who require more continuous monitoring, a physician can recommend a Holter monitor, also known as a continuous ambulatory electrocardiographic monitor, notes the American Heart Association. This is a portable electrocardiogram that records information about heart rate continuously for 24 hours. A patient may also keep a diary of activities and symptoms; together, this log and the Holter monitor recordings can help a physician identify the types of activities associated with a patient's arrhythmia. As an alternative, a physician may recommend a transtelephonic monitor for patients with infrequent or short-lived arrhythmia symptoms. A patient keeps this small machine for one or two months and uses it to collect an electrocardiogram recording when he feels symptomatic.

A treadmill test is a diagnostic exam appropriate for patients with suspected exercise-induced arrhythmia, the American Heart Association explains. A patient undergoing this test walks or runs on a treadmill while a physician records heart rate and rhythm.

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