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Heart Rhythm Disorders (cont.)

Heart Rhythm Disorders Diagnosis

Evaluation of rhythm disorders usually requires a detailed discussion of symptoms and a physical exam with a health care professional.

In addition, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is mandatory to establish the exact type of arrhythmia. If the rhythm disturbance is present while the ECG is being recorded, the problem may be identified immediately. Otherwise, more specialized testing may be required. A 24-hour (or longer) recording of the heartbeat is often necessary to detect any rhythm problem that occurs daily but not constantly. (For examples of EKGs of various arrhythmias, the reader is urged to see the references provided in this introductory article.)

However, if the arrhythmia is even more infrequent, an event recorder may be used. These recorders can be hand-held machines that are activated by the patient whenever he or she feels symptoms. These event recorders can be worn for variable amounts of time from days to weeks in order to detect changes in the heart's rhythm. Some recorders are placed surgically under the skin and left there for up to 1 year.

An ultrasound of the heart, called an echocardiogram, is often used for an evaluation of the structure and function of the heart that may help identify underlying causes that lead to arrhythmias.

In general, arrhythmias in children are diagnosed with most of the same tests that are used in adults.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/21/2013

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