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Diagnostic Services for Arrhythmias

The University of Chicago Medicine offers state-of-the-art heart testing, including special services for patients with heart rhythm disturbances. These tests help physicians determine the exact origin of the rhythm disorder, which ultimately leads to the best treatment plan for each patient.

Some of the services provided include:

Electrocardiographic Testing

EKG on screen

Electrocardiograms, often abbreviated as ECG or EKG, are noninvasive tests that record the electrical activity of the heart. ECGs are used to determine if the heart has been damaged. There are a few types of ECGs. A resting ECG can be performed while lying down. An exercise ECG, sometimes called a stress test, is performed while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle.

Holter Monitoring and Event Monitoring

These tests are used to determine if an arrhythmia is occurring and what type and how frequently it is occurring. With Holter monitoring, or 24-hour ECG, the patient wears an external small, portable machine that records changes in heart rhythm throughout the day.

Insertable Cardiac Monitoring Devices

An insertable cardiac monitoring device is used to detect heart rhythm-related episodes of unexplained fainting (syncope) or palpitations.

An insertable cardiac monitoring device continuously monitors heart rhythm and records your heart's activity in the form of an electrocardiogram (ECG). When a fainting episode occurs, the device is triggered to save a record of the heart's activity before, during and after the spell. The device can be programmed to automatically record the episode or it can be prompted to save the ECG via a small hand-held device placed over the cardiac monitor. Our electrophysiologists can then read the ECG record to determine if an arrhythmia is present.

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 spells (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 the arm or leg, and then into the heart. The physician uses these catheters to better determine the type and origin of the rhythm disorder.