Ambulatory Electrocardiogram

An ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) records the electrical activity of your heart while you do your usual activities. Ambulatory monitors are referred to by several names, including ambulatory electrocardiogram, ambulatory EKG, Holter monitoring, 24-hour EKG, or cardiac event monitoring.

Many heart problems become noticeable only during activity, such as exercise, eating, sex, stress, bowel movements, or even sleeping. A continuous 24-hour recording is more likely to detect any abnormal heartbeats that occur during these activities.

Many people have irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) from time to time. The importance of irregular heartbeats depends on the type of pattern they produce, how often they occur, how long they last, and whether they occur at the same time you have symptoms. Because arrhythmias can occur off and on, it may be difficult to record an arrhythmia while you are in the doctor’s office.

There are several different types of ambulatory monitors.

Continuous recorders

  • Portable: It provides 2 weeks record of the electrical signals from your heart. A standard EKG monitors only 40 to 50 heartbeats during the brief period you are attached to the machine. A continuous recorder monitors about 100,000 heartbeats in 24 hours and is likely to find any heart problems that happen with activity.
  • Implantable: Type of continuous recorder that is implanted under the skin of the chest. This recorder can be kept in your chest for more than a year to record the electrical signals from your heart.