Ambulatory ECG

Ambulatory electrocardiogram monitors your heart when you are doing your normal activities. It helps to detect abnormal heart rates and rhythms.

What is an ambulatory electrocardiogram?

This is a standard test used to record your heart rhythm to investigate symptoms of palpitations, dizzyness and blackouts and breathlessness.

This test records the electrical activity of your heart when you are walking about (ambulatory) and doing your normal activities and when you sleep. Small metal electrodes are stuck on to your chest and wires from the electrodes are connected to a small lightweight recorder called a Holter monitor. The recorder is attached to a belt which you wear round your waist and the device records your cardiac electrical activity continuously usually for 24-48 hour. You will be given a diary to record the times when you develop any symptoms (such as palpitations). You may be advised to undertake specific activities that you know may provoke the symptoms during the recording period. However, you should not have a bath or shower, as the recorder does not like getting wet!

The ECG tracing is analysed at the end of the test. Any times you record that you had symptoms will be specifically analysed to see if you had an arrhythmia to account for the symptoms.

A variation of the Holter monitor is the Event monitor. This device only records when you press a button when symptoms occur. This type of device can be kept for a longer duration of 1-2 weeks, a significant advantage when symptoms are less frequent.