In addition to gathering a medical history and performing a thorough physical exam, many tests and tools help determine the type of arrhythmia and its severity. Some common diagnostic tests include:

Cardiac Stress Test

Measures the heart’s ability to respond to external stress, such as strenuous physical exercise.


External test in which ultrasound waves visualize the structures of the heart. An echocardiogram can be used to diagnose structural abnormalities of the heart, assess valvular function and look for clots in the atria prior to an ablation procedure. Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) is also used to guide physicians during various electrophysiology procedures.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Provides physicians with important information about the heart’s rhythm by recording its electrical signals. In order to view the heart’s electrical signals, electrodes are placed in various places on the patient’s chest and limbs. An EKG is a non-invasive, painless and safe diagnostic tool in electrophysiology.

Electrophysiology (EP) Study

A minimally invasive procedure that involves placing specialized catheters in the heart through a patient’s blood vessels. The specialized catheters allow the physician to see the electrical conduction of the heart with much greater detail than the surface EKG can provide. During an EP study, a physician can provoke an arrhythmia using several methods. An EP study can provide a definitive diagnosis of an arrhythmia and information essential in selecting the appropriate treatment. An EP study is typically recommended for persons with symptoms of arrhythmia or those who are at risk for sudden cardiac death.

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Holter Monitor

A special type of EKG worn by a patient for up to seven days. The results of a Holter monitor can be very useful in diagnosing arrhythmias that are intermittent. The arrhythmia may be detected even if symptoms are not present.

Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)

Continuously records the heart's electrical activity just like an electrocardiogram (ECG). It can store the pattern of activity that happens before, during and after an "event." By analyzing the stored data, your physician can determine whether the cause is an arrhythmia, and can monitor your heart accordingly.

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Tilt Table Test

Used to determine the cause of fainting, lightheadedness or dizziness, which involves tilting the patient upright at a 70 to 80 degree angle for 30 to 45 minutes while monitoring heart rate and blood pressure.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram [TEE]

Internal Echo, during which an ultrasound transducer positioned on an endoscope is guided down the patient’s throat and into the esophagus, providing a view of the heart’s chambers and valves. TEE is typically recommended when the physician wants to examine the heart valves and chambers closely, check for blood clots in the heart, or visualize the left upper chambers of the heart.