Heart Examinations - The differences between an ECG, exercise ECG, and 24-hour Holter ECG

Purpose of ECG Examinations

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Physical weakness
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
Types of ECG
Types of ECG

ECG is a general term for electrocardiogram examinations. Typically ECG refers to a static electrocardiogram. Other types include exercise electrocardiograms and 24-hour Holter electrocardiograms, which are used to check patient conditions with different heart diseases.

  • Static Electrocardiogram : The most basic and simple method of ECG examination. The patient stays still and lies flat on their back as medical staff stick electrodes to the hands, feet, and chest, which tracks current changes of heart activity with an ECG instrument. The status electrocardiogram is used to observe whether the heart is abnormal at rest, due to conditions such as arrhythmia, atrial and ventricular hypertrophy, or myocardial hypoxia.
  • Exercise Electrocardiogram : For patients with heart diseases who do not experience myocardial hypoxia when the heart is at rest, a cardiology specialist may recommend the patient undergo an exercise electrocardiogram. The exercise ECG examination has the patient run on a treadmill to increase heart oxygen consumption as their immediate heart and lung function, blood pressure, and changes to the electrocardiogram are observed to assess whether the patient has coronary artery disease.
  • 24-hour Holter Electrocardiogram : If the patient has symptoms of heart disease or suspects they have an irregular heartbeat, they may be required to undergo a 24-hour continuous electrocardiogram. Medical staff will stick electrode pads onto the chest of the patient while they carry a small device that records the patient’s cardiac activity over 24 hours. This method is suitable for diagnosing cases of arrhythmia.
Precautions for ECG Examinations
Precautions for ECG Examinations

Patients undergoing an ECG should not engage in vigorous exercises, smoking, drinking coffee or strong tea and other stimulating beverages an hour before the examination. In addition, you should remove all items that can affect current conduction such as watches, metal jewelry, stockings, etc. so as not to affect the accuracy of the examination.