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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.

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 price using the following scale:

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

Most compact ECG monitor

EMAY Portable ECG Monitor

  • Price: $
  • Best for: Compatible with all smartphones.
  • Battery life: Its rechargeable lithium battery can perform up to 500 readings per charge.
  • Features: Its compact size is small enough to fit in your pocket. The monitor is easy to use with no leads, and records 30 seconds of heart rate and rhythm. You can store, review, and share heart health data on your smartphone or a PC computer.

Cheapest ECG monitor for home use

AliveCor KardiaMobile EKG

  • Price: $
  • Best for: Quickly detects arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation.
  • Battery life: 3V CR2016, 200 hours of operating time before replacement.
  • Features: This is a small and discreet single-lead personal ECG. It measures heart rhythms in only 30 seconds. It connects to any smartphone. It’s medical-grade and portable.

Best wireless ECG monitor

Omron Complete Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor + EKG

  • Price: $$
  • Best for: Records blood pressure along with cardiac data.
  • Battery life: Uses 4 AA batteries, so depends on usage.
  • Features: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that this device is substantially equivalent to medical-grade devices. It measures blood pressure and heart rate while analyzing heart rhythm. It synchronizes to the free Omron Connect smartphone app. You can store, track, and share your heart health data.

Cheapest medical-grade ECG

Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope

  • Price: $$$
  • Best for: Detects arrhythmias and heart murmurs.
  • Battery life: Rechargeable lithium battery is good for 10 hours of use per charge.
  • Features: This is a medical-grade device you can use at home. It amplifies heart and lung sounds by 60 times. The monitor shows heart sound waves and ECG tracings. You can use it without connecting to a smartphone or computer app. ECG recordings can be saved and shared by email. It has one lead and is easy to use. You can charge the device with a USB cord, adapter, or wireless charging pad.

Best portable medical-grade ECG

Biocare 12-Lead ECG Machine

  • Price: $$$
  • Best for: Provides highly detailed 12-lead ECG readings.
  • Battery life: Power cord or rechargeable for 3 hours of use per charge.
  • Features: This medical-grade device can be used at home by a home care nurse or other healthcare professional. It’s FDA- and CE-approved. You can use it without connecting to a smartphone or computer app. It’s compact, portable, and light enough to carry by hand. You can view your ECG on the monitor or via a printout. The monitor is highly sensitive. It easily finds irregular heart rhythms.

Smallest ECG monitor

KardiaMobile 6L EKG

  • Price: $$
  • Best for: Provides detailed, accurate heart data on a small scale.
  • Battery life: 3V CR2016, 200 hours of operating time before replacement.
  • Features: This is a small and discreet six-lead personal ECG. It measures heart rhythms in only 30 seconds and can detect arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia. It connects to any smartphone. It’s medical-grade and portable. The CR2016 battery should last 1 to 2 years with two to three readings per day.

Best wearable ECG monitor

Wellue Portable EKG Monitor

  • Price: $
  • Best for: Constant readings with a wearable device.
  • Battery life: Lithium battery provides 2 to 3 hours of power per charge.
  • Features: This handheld monitor can also be worn with a chest strap. It can measure your ECG from 30 seconds up to 15 minutes. Use it with or without a smartphone. It has a free smartphone app. Synchronize it to a smartphone app with Bluetooth to view your data. You can store, record, and share heart health data.

NamePriceBest forBattery lifeFeatures
EMAY Portable ECG Monitor$compact500 readingswide range of compatibility
AliveCor KardiaMobile EKG$cheapest200 hourscompact, single lead reading
Omron Complete Wireless
Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor + EKG
$$wirelessuses 4 AA batteries, so depends on usagechecks ECG and blood pressure
Eko DUO + EKG Stethoscope$$$cheapest medical-grade 10 hoursECG plus stethoscope
Biocare 12-Lead ECG Machine$$$portable medical-grade2–3 hoursmedical-grade and portable, can be charged or plugged in
KardiaMobile 6L EKG$smallest200 hourscompact, 6-lead reading
Wellue Portable EKG Monitor$wearable2–3 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.

When shopping for an ECG monitor for at-home use, look for one that is 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, such as 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.

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 don’t 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.

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.
  • Don’t take a reading immediately after exercise or physical activity.
  • Don’t 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

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 for a doctor to be involved in caring for and monitoring any heart conditions you may have.

Can an ECG monitor detect a heart attack?

Most 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 won’t 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.