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Electrocardiograms (ECG) are devices that doctors can use to record the heart’s electrical activity. Portable devices are also available for people who wish to monitor their heart health at home.

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People should not use personal ECG monitors to diagnose or treat heart conditions. If a person believes they may have a heart condition, they should contact a doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.

ECGs are a type of equipment that doctors may use in a hospital or clinic to record a person’s heart’s electrical activity. They create an electrical “map” of the heart from the outside.

ECG machines come with sensors that attach to a person’s skin. This allows them to record the electrical signals that the heart produces.

At-home ECG monitors have built-in sensors that record the heart’s activity. People can hold their fingers against these sensors or wear them on their wrists or body.

Some devices also feature built-in screens that allow users to view their heart rhythm. People can also buy products that they can connect to a smartphone to collect their data. They can then share their readings with a doctor.

Doctors may use ECGs to detect several health conditions.

A person can also use portable ECG monitors at home to check their heart rate and rhythm and use the data to discuss any symptoms or patterns with a doctor.

Conditions that ECGs can detect

The United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) states that ECGs can detect certain heart conditions. These include the following.

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat. A person’s heart may beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.

This condition affects up to 5% of people but may not cause any symptoms. A doctor can perform an ECG test to diagnose arrhythmia. Once they diagnose this condition, they will discuss a treatment plan with the individual.

Learn more about arrhythmia here.

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease affects around 18.2 million adults aged 20 years and above in the United States.

The condition occurs when fatty substances build up inside the lining of the coronary arteries and block the heart’s blood supply. Doctors may diagnose coronary artery disease by using an ECG.

Learn more about coronary artery disease here.

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when the heart does not have enough blood supply. Some people may not notice that they have had a heart attack.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

Doctors may use ECGs to detect this condition. However, if a person has any symptoms of a heart attack, they should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn more about heart attacks here.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle changes size, shape, or thickness and is unable to pump enough blood. This can lead to an irregular heartbeat and heart failure.

Learn more about cardiomyopathy here.

Using an ECG monitor at home

Personal ECG monitors are similar to the ECGs that doctors use. An individual may use these devices to monitor their heart health at home.

However, a person should never use a personal ECG monitor as a replacement for medical advice. If they have any symptoms that may indicate the presence of an underlying health condition — such as heart palpitations, dizziness, or fainting — they should seek immediate medical advice.

Medical News Today chose portable ECG monitors that fit the following criteria:

  • Customer reviews: We chose products that have a high average customer rating.
  • Price: We chose products available in a wide range of budgets.
  • Ease of use: We chose products suitable for people of all ages.

An individual should speak with a doctor to decide which at-home ECG monitor is best for their needs.

Below are some factors that people may wish to consider when looking for an at-home ECG monitor:

  • Connectivity: Some ECG monitors come with Bluetooth connectivity and can connect to smartphone devices to track the user’s data and readings.
  • Memory: This allows the user to save previous readings, which can be useful if they want to share results with a doctor.
  • Size: If a person intends to use an ECG monitor while traveling, they should check its dimensions to ensure that it fits in their pocket.
  • Measurement time: Most devices take 30 seconds to take one reading.

Several portable ECG monitors are available to buy online. People should carefully read the product descriptions to ensure they purchase the right device for their needs.

Many of these ECG monitors are not suitable for individuals who have pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators. If a person has any of these devices, they should contact a doctor before making a purchase.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for easily sharing reports: EMAY Portable ECG Monitor

List pricearound $99
Dimensions3.94 x 1.77 x 0.59 inches (in)
Warranty12 months

This portable ECG monitor is compact, allowing a person to carry it in their pocket. It is compatible with most smartphones.

Other features include the ability to record 30 seconds of a person’s heart rate and rhythm and PC software for saving, viewing, and sharing reports.

People can use this device by placing their hands on the sensors on either side of the ECG monitor and holding still for 30 seconds. They can then sync their data to their smartphone.

Pros and cons

Those who left positive reviews stated that they liked the ability to connect the device to their smartphones to save measurement data.

However, those who left more negative reviews stated that the device is not as accurate as hospital ECGs.

Best for a mobile device ECG: AliveCor KardiaMobile

List pricearound $89
Dimensions3.2 x 1.3 x 0.14 in
Warranty30-days return policy

AliveCor states that this device has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance to detect atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia in 30 seconds.

The KardiaMobile does not require any wires or patches. An individual can simply place the sensors on the back of their smartphone and press their fingers to the device. They can then save and share their readings with a doctor.

This device is compatible with most smart devices. It is compatible with the iPhone 5 and later models, a wide range of Android devices, and most iPads.

AliveCor accepts health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible savings accounts (FSA) as payment.

Pros and cons

Those who left positive reviews stated that this device is easy to use, comfortable, and durable.

However, some reviewers reported that they had difficulty connecting the device to their smartphones and that the instruction manual was confusing.

Best for an easy-to-read display: FaceLake FL10

List pricearound $79
Dimensions3.94 x 1.77 x 0.59 in
Warranty30-days return policy

The FaceLake FL10 has a 1.77-in LCD screen with an easy-to-read display.

People can adjust the reading time and see real-time heartbeat displays.

FaceLake offers an iOS app and an Android app that can store and save readings. People can also print out or download a PDF to share their readings with a doctor.

Pros and cons

Those who wrote positive reviews stated that this device was easy to use. Some people say that they found it convenient to share data with their doctors.

However, others reported that the readings may be inaccurate if a person moves while taking the measurements.

Best for a medical-grade ECG: Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope

List pricearound $399
Dimensionsno information available
Warranty2-year warranty

This ECG monitor works by placing the device against the chest and looking at the readings in the Eko app.

This device features single-button controls and Bluetooth connectivity. People can choose to add an earpiece that connects to the Eko Duo to their purchase.

Eko states that a person can amplify the sounds of their heart up to 60 times. The company also states that this device is suitable for healthcare professionals.

Eko accepts HSA and FSA as payment.

Pros and cons

Positive reviews on the website stated that this device delivered clear sounds to those with hearing aids.

However, some said that they found it difficult to use this device on people with a high or low body mass.

Best for unlimited report storage: OXPROVO Portable ECG Monitor

List pricearound $79
Dimensions4.41 x 2.76 x 1.57 in
Warranty30-day returns policy

This portable ECG monitor is compatible with Windows and Mac computers as well as iOS and Android devices. It records heartbeats and up to 30 seconds of heart activity.

People can print or email their results to share with a doctor. People can use this device by placing the sensor on their chest, ankle, wrist, or fingers.

OXPROVO states that it provides unlimited report storage on a computer.

The company suggests that people charge their devices for at least 15 minutes before using them, as they have low battery power.

Pros and cons

Positive reviews stated that this device was accurate and easy to use.

However, others noted its short battery life. Additionally, some reviewers reported that they received several devices with defective batteries.

The following table compares the at-home ECG monitors in this article.

EMAYAliveCorFaceLakeEko DUOOXPROVO
ConnectivityPC and smartphonesmartphones and tabletsiOS and Android appBluetoothPC and smartphone
Dimensions3.94 x 1.77 x 0.59 in3.2 x 1.3 x 0.14 in3.94 x 1.77 x 0.59 inno information available4.41 x 2.76 x 1.57 in
Warranty12 months30-day return policy30-day return policy2 years30-day return policy
List pricearound $99around $89around $79around $399around $79

People should follow all manufacturer instructions when using a portable ECG monitor.

Although instructions may vary, some general tips for using a portable ECG include:

  • not using the ECG monitor while exercising, as the measurement is less likely to be accurate
  • staying still while using the ECG monitor
  • placing the sensor on an area where it can register a pulse, including the fingers, wrist, or chest
  • taking measurements on dry skin
  • taking measurements on bare, hairless skin
  • removing any jewelry that would be close to the sensors

A portable ECG monitor is not a replacement for medical advice. If a person’s reading shows any unusual heart rhythms, they should seek medical advice immediately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47% of people in the U.S. have one of the following risk factors for heart disease:

The American Heart Association (AHA) offers some tips to help people prevent heart disease. These include:

  • Following a nutritious diet: People should try to eat foods that are low in saturated fats and add fruits and vegetables to their diets.
  • Exercising regularly: If possible, individuals should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week.
  • Managing stress: Long-term stress can increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, so people should try to limit this.
  • Avoiding or stopping smoking: This also applies to individuals who do not smoke, as they can still develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke.

Learn more about heart disease here.

The AHA also states that those who have already had a heart attack should take any medications a doctor prescribes. Taking prescription medication can lower the risk of experiencing another heart attack.

People who are monitoring their heart health should also attend follow-up appointments and contact a doctor if they notice any new or worsening symptoms.

A person should contact a doctor if they believe that they are experiencing any symptoms that may indicate a heart condition. These symptoms can include:

A doctor will perform tests to diagnose any conditions that can affect heart health. They will also determine a treatment plan to monitor and treat any symptoms of a heart condition.

When to seek emergency medical attention

People who are experiencing the following symptoms should seek emergency attention:

These symptoms may indicate a heart attack.

Here we answer some common questions about these devices.

What is the difference between EKG and ECG?

EKG and ECG are different abbreviations for the same test, an electrocardiogram.

Learn more about these abbreviations here.

Is an ECG the same as a heart monitor?

Yes, an ECG monitors the heart’s electrical activity.

Portable ECG monitors can be useful for people who wish to monitor their heart health at home or when traveling.

There are various brands that manufacture these types of devices. A person should check the features they offer and choose one that is most suitable for their needs.

People should not use these devices to diagnose or treat a medical condition. If a person believes they may have a heart condition, they should contact a doctor as soon as possible.