Diagnosing Arrhythmia Problems
Tests frequently used to diagnose arrhythmias include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG), a recording of electrical activity in the heart. We perform thousands of electrocardiography procedures each year. Sometimes a device is used to obtain a specialized electrocardiogram, including:
- Holter monitor, a device that records heart rhythms over 24-48 hours
- Event recorder or loop recorder, devices that record irregular heart rhythm episodes over extended periods of time
- Electrophysiology study (EP study), an invasive procedure that tests the heart's electrical system. EP studies may be performed to help evaluate the effectiveness of medications, to “map” or locate the point of origin of a dysrhythmia, or to gather other important details about the patient’s condition.
- Tilt table test, used to determine the cause of syncope, or fainting. While physicians monitor the patient’s electrocardiogram and blood pressure, they attempt to cause an episode of syncope in the patient by using a tilt table to create changes in posture from lying to standing.
- Cardiac MRI (cardiac magnetic resonance imaging), a procedure used to diagnose a variety of arrhythmias. The procedure uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of the heart. This is an important test for diagnosing conditions related to arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation.
- Echocardiogram (“echo”), an ultrasound test that uses sound waves to take images of the heart in motion. The test helps assess the heart’s structure and function. The state-of-the-art Echocardiography Laboratory at Froedtert & The Medial College of Wisconsin performs thousands of echo procedures a year, including:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
- Intracardiac echocardiogram (ICE)
- Echo-optimized Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) evaluation
Genetic Testing for Inherited CardiomyopathiesMedical College of Wisconsin electophysiologist work closely with a cardiac geneticist who are available to determine if a patient has an inherited cardiomyopathy condition. Testing can confirm a diagnosis in someone showing signs of the condition. It can also identify family members at risk of developing the condition later in life so they can be screened regularly and treated as soon as heart changes begin to appear.
Author: Kathy Allen
|Medical Reviewer: ||Jason Rubenstein, MD|
Last Review Date: April 10, 2012
Online Editor(s): Kathryn Adam