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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.
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, as well as 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.
Clinical or hospital-grade ECG monitors have leads or electrodes that are taped 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 sensor 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 usually 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 are picking 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.
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.
You don’t need to purchase a very expensive ECG monitoring device for home use. Several reliable ECG monitors are clinically approved.
With that in mind, we considered the features, ease of use, and price points of ECG monitors from reputable brands.
How much do ECGs cost?
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 its 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.
We indicate price range using the following scale:
- $ = below $100
- $$ = $100–$200
- $$$ = over $200
Most compact ECG monitor
- This monitor is compatible with all smartphones.
- The compact size is small enough to fit in your pocket.
- It’s easy to use, with no leads.
- It records 30 seconds of your heart rate and rhythm.
- With this device, you can store, review, and share heart health data on your smartphone.
Cheapest ECG monitor for home use
- This monitor is portable and small enough to carry in your pocket.
- Record your heart rate and waveform easily, anywhere.
- Record your heart rate and ECG for up to 30 seconds at a time.
- Email records to yourself or synchronize to a smartphone app.
- This monitor is rechargeable.
Best wireless ECG monitor
- This device is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared at-home blood pressure and ECG monitor.
- It’s easy to use.
- It synchronizes to the free OMRON Connect smartphone app.
- With the monitor, you can store, track, and share your heart health data.
Cheapest medical-grade ECG
- This is a medical-grade device that can be used 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.
- The rechargeable battery stays charged for 9 hours.
Best portable medical-grade ECG
- This is a medical-grade device that can be used at home by a home-care nurse or another healthcare professional.
- It’s both Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CE approved
- You can use 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 in order to help find abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) easily.
- The rechargeable battery has a 3-hour life.
Smallest ECG monitor
- 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 wearable ECG monitor
- This is a handheld monitor that 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.
- With this monitor, you can store, record, and share heart health data.
When shopping for an ECG monitor for at-home use, look for one that is approved 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.
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.
- 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.
Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following symptoms:
- fast heart rate
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- chest tightness or pressure
- shortness of breath
A home or personal-use ECG can be a helpful tool if you have a condition that might affect your heart rate and rhythm. Let your doctor know if you have any unusual ECG readings.
A personal-use ECG monitor won’t be as accurate as a clinical or hospital-grade ECG machine. You’ll still need to get regular health checkups that include an ECG reading with your doctor.