Many patients report symptoms of palpitations or dizziness/presyncope. These patients are often referred for 24-hour Holter ECG, although the sensitivity for detecting relevant arrhythmias is comparatively low. Intermittent short ECG recording over a longer time period might be a convenient and more sensitive alternative. The objective of this study is to compare the efficacy of 24-hour Holter ECG with intermittent short ECG recording over four weeks to detect relevant arrhythmias in patients with palpitations or dizziness/presyncope.
95 patients, 42 men and 53 women with a mean age of 54.1 years, completed registrations. Analysis of Holter registrations showed atrial fibrillation (AF) in two patients and atrioventricular (AV) block II in one patient (= 3.2% relevant arrhythmias [95% CI 1.1-8.9]). Intermittent handheld ECG detected nine patients with AF, three with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) and one with AV-block-II (= 13.7% relevant arrhythmias [95% CI 8.2-22.0]). There was a significant difference between the two methods in favour of intermittent ECG with regard to the ability to detect relevant arrhythmias (P = 0.0094). With Holter ECG, no symptoms were registered during any of the detected arrhythmias. With intermittent ECG, symptoms were registered during half of the arrhythmia episodes.
Intermittent short ECG recording during four weeks is more effective in detecting AF and PSVT in patients with ambiguous symptoms arousing suspicions of arrhythmia than 24-hour Holter ECG.