Diagnosis of heart rhythm conditions

Because arrhythmias and their symptoms can come and go, they can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Our Adult Heart Rhythm Program uses several leading-edge diagnostic tests to further understand and identify heart arrhythmias.  

Diagnostic tests

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) records the heart’s electrical activity, shows abnormal rhythms, and can sometimes detect heart muscle damage. 
  • Holter monitor is a small, portable, battery-powered ECG machine worn by a patient to record heartbeats over a period of 24-48 hours during normal activities. Our team analyzes the information gathered across that time period and looks for any abnormal heart rhythms.
  • An event recorder is similar to a Holter monitor, but it is worn for up to 30 days. The patient presses a button on the recorder every time he or she experiences a symptom, which records the heart rhythm at that moment.  
  • An implantable loop recorder is a device about the size of a AAA battery that is implanted under the skin in the chest. It is used to determine the cause of a stroke, recurrent fainting, palpitations, or other symptoms that come and go infrequently. 
  • A cardiac MRI is a type of noninvasive scan that uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside and outside of the heart. This scan is superior to other types of imaging at identifying scarring in the heart, which can cause an arrhythmia. These scans can also help guide ablation procedures. UK is the only hospital in the region to offer advanced forms of cardiac MRI scans with specialty trained physicians on site to interpret the results.
  • tilt table test is used to determine the cause of unexplained fainting. This type of test can determine if a patient is prone to sudden drops in blood pressure or slow pulse rates when they change position.
  • An electrophysiology study uses insulated electric catheters placed inside the heart to discover where the abnormal signals that are causing the arrhythmia are coming from. We typically perform this study at the same time as a catheter ablation, so that if we locate an abnormal rhythm, we can treat it at that time.