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ECG monitors, also known as EKGs, can measure your heart rate and rhythm. Having one at home can be helpful, but what type should you get? Check out our picks to get started.

ECG or EKG stands for electrocardiogram. An ECG monitor measures and records your heart rate and rhythm and displays this information in a wave-like pattern. Many ECG monitors are available for at-home use.

Here, we’ll look at the features of seven monitors from reliable brands and what to know about ECG devices.

When are ECG monitors used at home?

ECG or EKG monitors for home use can help you track your heart rhythm and rate. Some can measure other vitals like blood pressure.

If you have certain heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation, it may be important to keep track of your heart rhythm. You might also want to monitor your heart rate and heart rhythm for other reasons like when you’re exercising, if you’re pregnant, or if you have other health conditions.

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You don’t need to purchase a very expensive ECG monitoring device for home use. Several reliable ECG monitors are clinically approved.

We compared these ECG monitors based on:

  • accuracy
  • ease of use
  • cost
  • how each device is powered
  • battery life
  • a number of other factors

Some devices have specific applications. For example, some are made to be wearable or portable. Several models also have connectivity features that can allow you to view your results from a smartphone or share them with a healthcare professional. All of them have at least some type of data recording function.

Pricing guide

We indicate pricing using the following scale:

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = over $200

NamePriceBest forBattery lifeFeatures
EMAY Portable ECG Monitor$compatibility with all smartphones500 readingswide range of compatibility
Omron Complete Wireless
Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor + EKG
$$recording blood pressure and cardiac datauses 4 AA batteries, so it depends on usagechecks ECG and blood pressure
Eko DUO + EKG Stethoscope$$$detecting arrhythmias and heart murmurs10 hoursECG plus stethoscope
Biocare 12-Lead ECG Machine$$$providing highly detailed 12-lead ECG readings2–3 hoursmedical-grade and portable, can be charged or plugged in
KardiaMobile 6L EKG$providing detailed data on a small device200 hourscompact, 6-lead reading
Wellue Portable EKG Monitor$continual readings2–3 hourswearable and discreet

Clinical or hospital-grade ECG monitors have leads, wires, and devices called electrodes. A healthcare professional will tape the electrodes to different parts of your body to measure your heart rhythm.

Home or personal-use ECGs, which are a type of consumer electronics, typically have sensors built into them. You can hold one or two fingers against the sensors or wear the sensors on your wrist or body. The sensors are like electrodes that pick up and record your heart’s electrical activity.

Some personal-use ECG devices have built-in screens so you can see your heart rhythm on the monitor. Other devices connect to a smartphone or computer application where you can record, view, store, and share your ECG readings.

Personal-use ECG monitors often give a close reading of your heart rhythm and rate. They may have one or two leads, or points of contact on your body. Clinical or hospital-grade ECGs, on the other hand, use 12 leads, so they’re more sensitive.

This means personal-use ECGs pick up electrical signals from your heart but not as accurately as the device your doctor uses. Personal-use ECGs can also be inaccurate if you have sweat or moisture on your skin, or do not use them exactly as instructed.

Several smartwatches and other wearable devices can also provide data about your heart health, but these are often limited in their ability to detect abnormal heart rhythms. A portable ECG device will give your doctor the detailed information they need to diagnose cardiac issues.

For these reasons, don’t panic if your personal-use ECG gives you an unusual reading. Take more readings and send the measurements to your doctor via email, if possible. Your doctor can double-check any strange heart readings with a more accurate ECG.

When shopping for an ECG monitor for at-home use, look for one that is FDA-approved, or at least reviewed by the FDA or another health organization.

Choose a personal-use ECG device that’s easy to use. If you have a heart condition, you may wish to use a medical-grade ECG monitor. However, many of these devices require a healthcare professional like a home care nurse to use and read them.

Compact personal-use ECG devices begin at about $50 and go up to $300 or more depending on the brand and model. Clinical and hospital-grade ECG monitors typically begin at around $200 and can go up to several thousand dollars each.

Pricing for an ECG monitor depends on the type, grade, brand, and features. ECGs made for personal or home use are cheaper than those made for clinical or hospital use.

Some smaller and cheaper medical-grade ECG devices can be used at home if you have a home care nurse or another healthcare professional who visits regularly.

If you’ve ever had an ECG reading at your doctor’s office, you know that you have to be very still while the device measures your heart rhythm.

Here are some tips on how to take more accurate readings with a personal-use ECG:

  • Sit down and relax before taking the reading.
  • Do not take a reading immediately after exercise or other physical activity.
  • Do not drink very cold liquids right before the reading.
  • Make sure your skin is dry.
  • Make sure there’s no clothing between the ECG sensors and your skin.
  • Remove any jewelry that might be near the sensors.

Keep in mind that some personal-use ECGs might not always pick up slight or brief changes in your heart rhythm. So it’s important to get regular checkups and tell your doctor about any symptoms you might have — no matter what your ECG readings say.

Talk with a doctor

If you have fatigue or other health concerns, speak with your doctor.

Get immediate medical care if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • fast heart rate
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • chest pain
  • chest tightness or pressure
  • shortness of breath
  • lightheadedness
  • confusion
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What is ECG monitoring for?

ECG monitoring is a critical medical test that can detect abnormalities in the heart’s electrical activity such as irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia.

By measuring the electrical impulses that control the heartbeat, ECG monitoring can help your doctor identify any underlying heart conditions that may require further treatment.

But ECG monitoring isn’t just for diagnosing and treating heart conditions. By monitoring your heart health over time, you can identify potential issues before they become more significant problems.

This preventive approach can help you take control of your heart health and ensure that you’re doing everything possible to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

What is the difference between an ECG and a heart monitor?

There are many types of heart monitors. Some can deliver an ECG reading, while others can only record minimal heart data or create alerts for abnormal rhythms.

Talk with your doctor about your individual cardiac health needs and what type of monitor is best for you.

What is a normal read on an ECG monitor?

Sinus rhythm is the normal reading you should see on an ECG. With this reading, the waves on the ECG are equal in size and shape, predictable, and regular. With normal sinus rhythm, your heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

How do I know if I need an ECG monitor at home?

Talk with your doctor if you have:

  • unexplained rapid heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain

These may be symptoms of a heart condition. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. This may include using an ECG monitor.

While many of these devices can provide an immediate reading, it’s important that a doctor be involved in caring for and monitoring any heart conditions you may have.

Can an ECG monitor detect a heart attack?

Most at-home ECG monitors cannot accurately detect a heart attack. Instead, these devices detect abnormal heart rates and rhythms that could be a precursor to a number of cardiac events.

Your doctor can use a medical-grade, 12-lead ECG to observe subtle changes in your heart rhythm to diagnose both new and old cardiac events.

A home or personal-use ECG can be a helpful tool if you have a condition that might affect your heart rate and rhythm. If your device notifies you of an irregular heart rhythm, let your doctor know immediately.

Don’t hesitate to get medical attention if you have symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, or chest pain with an irregular reading.

A personal-use ECG monitor will not be as accurate as a clinical or hospital-grade ECG machine. These machines are meant to enhance the information your doctor can use to manage your condition, but they are not a replacement for regular medical care.