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Diagnosing a Heart Rhythm Irregularity

An irregularity in your heart's natural rhythm is called an arrhythmia. Methods we can use to diagnose arrhythmias include:

Electrophysiology (EP) Study

EP studies allow doctors to acquire accurate, detailed information on the electrical functions of the heart.  Electrodes are used to map the spread of electrical impulses throughout the heart. Learn more.

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

An electrocardiogram records the heart's electrical currents through monitors attached to your skin, which the physician can then interpret to determine the type of arrhythmia you have. The test, which takes about 10 minutes, needs to be recorded while you are having the arrhythmia. Learn more.

Implantable Micro-sized Monitoring

UC San Diego Health System was the first University of California hospital to implant a cardiac monitoring device called the Medtronic Reveal LINQ to help diagnose the hardest-to-detect cardiac arrhythmias. The device, which is one-third the size of a AAA battery, is implanted just under the skin in the upper chest area using a small incision. It allows physicians to wirelessly monitor a patient’s heart for up to three years. Learn more.  

Holter Monitor

A Holter monitor is a recording device that can be strapped to your chest, typically for a 24 hour period, to record your heart rate and rhythm. This increases the likelihood that the arrhythmia will occur and be recorded. By reading the device's printout, your physician can determine the nature of your arrhythmia. Learn more.

Event Monitor or Mobile Cardiac Outpatient Telemetry (MCOT)

This device is similar to a Holter monitor, but can be worn for up to 30 days. It wirelessly transmits the patient’s heart rhythm pattern by ECG to the physician.

Tilt-Table Testing

Tilt-table testing can help determine the cause of unexplained fainting. It can confirm whether the involuntary nervous system is experiencing overactivity that lowers blood pressure, slows down the heart or even causes it to stop beating for several seconds. If the tilt table causes a response and helps us diagnose the cause of fainting, we can prescribe medication, teach new behaviors and, in some cases, implant a pacemaker to prevent future incidents.