Long-term ECG (long-term electrocardiogram)

What is long-term ECG?

The long-term ECG is the standard method for identifying heart rhythm disorders which cannot be adequately documented by the rest- or stress-ECG. The heart actions are continually recorded and saved electronically, usually over a period of 24 hours. The doctor is thereby able to identify stimulation or excitation of the heart which only occur in phases.

When is a long-term ECG necessary?

The long-term ECG serves primarily for the clarification of possible heart rhythm disorders such as occur in patients suffering from symptoms such as dizziness or temporary circulatory collapse (syncope). The method is also used in the case of endangered patients, for instance following a heart attack, or patients with heart valve defects (valvular disease). The long-term ECG can also be used to check medicinal anti-arrhythmic therapy or a pacemaker system. The method is also suitable for detecting circulatory disorders of the heart and the diagnosis of a coronary heart disease.

Procedure

The measurement is usually carried out over a period of 24 hours by means of electrodes, which are attached to the skin in the area of the chest, and are connected to a small, portable device. This device continually records various values: the heart rate per minute, the regularity of the heartbeat (heart rhythm), the regularity of the excitation and stimulation of the heart. It can also provide indications of changes in the supply of blood to the coronary arteries). During the recording, the patient notes down any complaints in a report, which the doctor can then assign to possible rhythm changes during the evaluation.
In some cases, a discontinual recording over longer periods is necessary, sometimes over years. So-called event recorders or loop recorders, which are similar to heart pacemakers, are implanted for this purpose.

The fitting of the recording device takes place by us at the Heidelberg Praxisklinik für Kardiologie für Kardiologie on an out-patient basis. After the long-term ECG device has been fitted to the patient, the patient returns home or to work. The device remains attached to the body for the whole duration of the measurement, even when sleeping. On the following day, the patient returns to the private clinic, where the long-term ECG device is removed by our trained personnel. This is followed by the medical evaluation of the recorded data and heart actions by Dr. Natour.

Duration

The measurement is usually carried out over a period of 24 hours.

Risks

This examination involves practically no risk.

Note

In rare cases, rashes may occur at the points where the electrodes are attached.