3 Different Types of Electrocardiogram Monitors

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) records electrical signals from your heart. During this non-invasive diagnostic exam, electrode sensors pick up on your heart’s electrical currents and send the information to the EKG machine. The machine then creates a graph of the electrical activity.

Depending on your symptoms or the information your physician wants to collect, your doctor will recommend a specific type of EKG monitoring. Read on to find out about three different types of electrocardiogram monitors.

Resting 12-Lead EKG

The resting EKG is the standard electrocardiogram used to measure a heart’s electrical functioning. This EKG can be used to screen for heart conditions before signs or symptoms appear, such as for those who have a family history of heart problems.

During the resting EKG, you lie still in a comfortable position. The doctor, nurse, or technician will place 12 electrodes on your chest, arms, and legs to collect data.

Stress Test or Exercise EKG

The second type of electrocardiogram monitor takes place while you exercise. The exercise EKG is also called a stress test or treadmill test.

During this diagnostic assessment, the patient walks on a treadmill or pedals a stationary bicycle so healthcare specialists can monitor how the heart functions during exercise or while under stress. Specialists will also monitor your breathing and blood pressure rates.

Doctors can use data from the exercise EKG to detect conditions such as coronary artery disease. They can also use the stress test to determine safe levels of exercise after a heart attack or heart surgery.

Ambulatory EKG or Holter Monitor

Some heart problems might not present themselves during the time you can stay in the healthcare facility. Or you might experience symptoms while you do specific activities, such as sleeping.

If your physician wants to monitor your heart health over a longer period, they can use an ambulatory EKG, also called a Holter monitor. This small EKG monitor continuously records data over a period of 24 hours or longer. At the end of the assessment period, your healthcare provider will evaluate the data the Holter monitor collected.

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