Your doctor will review your medical history, family history, and lifestyle. During a physical examination, your doctor will check your heart, lungs, abdomen, and legs to see if signs of heart failure are present.
Your doctor may also perform one or more of the following tests.
Painless, Noninvasive Test Using Electrodes
This is a painless, noninvasive test in which patches with electrodes are attached to your skin to measure electrical impulses produced by your heart. These impulses are recorded as waves displayed on a monitor or printed out on graph paper.
Shows Heart Rate and Rhythm
It shows how fast your heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular). It also records the timing of the electrical signals as they pass through each part of the heart.
Records Heartbeats for 24 or 48 Hours
This is a portable device that records all of your heartbeats over an extended period, usually either 24 or 48 hours.
- You wear small patches with electrodes on your chest that are connected by wires to a small, portable recorder.
- The recorder can be clipped to a belt, kept in a pocket, or hung around your neck.
- During the time you're wearing a Holter monitor, you do your usual daily activities.
- You can press a button if you are experiencing symptoms, so your doctor will know what your heart rhythm was at the time of the symptoms.
Records Electrical Activity When You Push A Button
This machine is similar to the Holter monitor, except that not all of your heartbeats are recorded.
- You wear the device continuously, but it only records electrical activity when you push a button -- and you only push the button when you feel symptoms.
- These devices may be worn for as long as one to two months.
Useful For Monitoring Infrequent Episodes
This is an implantable cardiac monitor which is placed under your skin.
- It allows your heart rhythm to be monitored for up to three years.
- This is a particularly useful type of monitor for people who have infrequent episodes of fainting or other symptoms of heart arrhythmia.
These tests are used to detect:
- Level of thyroid hormones
- Balance of your body's electrolytes, minerals in your blood and body fluids that are essential for normal health and functioning of your body's cells and organs
Abnormal levels of these substances may cause heart rhythm disturbances.
Electrophysiology (EP) Study
Helps Pinpoint the Arrhythmia Location
Tests to help pinpoint the location, the type of arrhythmia, and how the arrhythmia responds to treatment.
- During an EP study, you are sedated and small catheters are guided to your heart.
- Your heart's rhythm is recorded as small amounts of electricity are delivered through the catheter.
Tilt Table Test
Helps Identify the Causes of Fainting
The tilt-table test is a simple, inexpensive, and informative test that can help identify the causes of fainting.
- You are placed on a table with a foot-support and then the table is tilted upward.
- The tilt-table may start off in a horizontal position and be tilted by degrees to a completely vertical position.
- Your blood pressure, pulse and symptoms are monitored throughout.
- The non-invasive test is done on an outpatient basis and takes about 45 minutes.
Exercise Stress Test
Examines Heart Rhythms During Exercise
This test reveals how well your heart functions when you exercise. It is usually conducted while you walk or jog on a treadmill.