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Diagnosing Arrhythmias

An accurate diagnosis is a key component to developing the best treatment plan. The heart rhythm specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Arrhythmia Care offers state-of-the-art testing using the latest diagnostic technology and techniques in order to identify the type and exact location of your arrhythmia.

Our Diagnostic Service

In order to correctly diagnose your condition, your physicians might recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests.

Electrocardiographic Testing

EKG on screen

Electrocardiograms, also known as ECGs or EKGs, are noninvasive tests that record the electrical activity of the heart to determine if there is any damage. ECG can be performed while lying down (resting ECG) or while a patient is exercising on a treadmill or bicycle (exercise ECG).

Holter Monitoring and Event Monitoring

These tests monitor a person's heart rate to determine if an arrhythmia is occurring. With Holter monitoring, or 24-hour ECG, the patient wears a small, external, portable machine that records changes in heart rhythm throughout the day. If you have an arrhythmia, this will enable your physician to determine what type of condition you have an how frequently it is occurring.

Insertable Cardiac Monitoring Devices

An insertable cardiac monitoring device is used in patients who have episodes of unexplained fainting (syncope) or palpitations.

An insertable cardiac monitoring device continuously monitors your heart rhythm and records the heart's activity in the form of an electrocardiogram (ECG). When fainting occurs, the device is triggered to save a record of your heart's activity before, during and after. These devices can be programmed to automatically record heart rhythm events or it can be prompted to save the ECG via a small hand-held device placed over the Acardiac monitor.

Other types of heart monitoring devices such as Holter monitors and event recorders are worn outside the body and are designed for more short-term use. An insertable cardiac monitoring device can be in place for up to three years, increasing the chances of documenting an infrequent fainting spell.

Tilt Table Testing

Tilt tests are often used if you experience fainting (syncope). These tests study how your heart reacts to a change in position from lying down to standing up.

Electrophysiologic Testing

Electrophysiologic testing involves the insertion of a small catheter into your arm or leg to access the heart. The physician uses these catheters to study the electrical activity in your heart and to better determine the type and origin of the rhythm disorder.

Exercise/Stress Testing

An exercise stress test, or a treadmill test, helps physicians determine if you have an arrhythmia. During a stress test, as you exercises, the heart works harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to the body. If there is a rhythm disorder, physicians will be able to see that the heart is not pumping blood as efficiently as it should.