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Heartbeat or EKG Line Tattoo Designs and Meanings

Updated on January 24, 2016
At the end of the line is a message in French, with the first word speaking of love. I couldn't make out the second word. If someone can identify it, leave it in the comments section.
At the end of the line is a message in French, with the first word speaking of love. I couldn't make out the second word. If someone can identify it, leave it in the comments section. | Source

Heartbeat Line or EKG Tattoos

Almost all of us have seen someone we care about hooked up to a heart monitor while we watch the irregular EKG line scrolling across the screen, reminding us of the preciousness of life.

A number of people have taken that emotional moment and symbol and decided to have it tattooed on a part of their body. Some people do it to remember someone special, to celebrate someone special, or to remind themselves that death is just a heartbeat away.

  • Various designs. Some also have other design elements added to it. The most common is that of a heart, although a close second is often a phrase conveying a sentimental message of some sort.
  • Meaning. What does this design mean? If you choose to get this kind of tattoo or are wondering about others who have it, the general message is conveying that one's heart beats for a special person.

Read on to learn about the different variations in placement and designs for this special tattoo.


Whatever the reason, EKGs or heartbeats are pretty cool as a design, and when you add the extraneous factors surrounding the reasons for getting that particular tattoo, it offers an opportunity to tell your story.

To me, that's the compelling aspect of this — it is a great conversation generator. It easily prompts the question of why you had it tattooed on, more than another kind of tattoo might.

As for placement, I've seen them in a lot of places on the body, although the most popular seems to be the forearm and wrist.

With all that in mind, let's look at some examples of these.

On the Forearm

The very first picture in this article shows one of the more popular placements — on the forearm, probably since it offers one of the clearest places to have it done and be displayed.

Adding Messages

Below is an example with a heart in the middle and a message above and below it. It says "With every heart beat," which conveys that the person donning this loves someone with every beat of their heart. Who wouldn't want that message being sent to them?

An additional perk is the appearance that the message was written by the person wearing it. Even if it wasn't, that's what is being communicated. That's a great personal touch that makes it even more meaningful.

On the Wrist

Here are some variations that you can use on the wrist:

  • Using a red heart, both the heart and the color being a nice touch. You can use this variation on any body part, really.
  • The line being shortened so that it shows on the wrist as a whole. This is a great idea so you can see and appreciate the tattoo with just a glance, without needing to move any body parts.
  • You can also have the line go all the way around the wrist too. One advantage here is that anyone seeing the wrist, from any angle, will be able to notice it. As a conversation starter, that would be better because it always for an easier visual of the tattoo to kick things off.

Below, you'll find a couple of designs, done in two completely different ways, that showcase these variations.

On the Foot

This is an interesting place to display it, but here are some things to consider:

  • It works great as a good canvas area, but keep in mind that not everyone will be able to see it, unless you're at the beach or wearing a pair of flip flops somewhere.
  • This is a good place to have it if you just want a very personal tattoo to commemorate the memory of a loved one. So it could be placed there for the purpose of only allowing a select few people to see such an intimate design.

Whatever the reason, it would generate some dialogue with those who see it, which is always nice.

Including Names or Dates

Not only is this a very sentimental design already, but it looks cool too. Check out the example below that uses the name and date of birth of someone special (in this case, the person's son). There's also a checkered background that offsets the heartbeat line nicely.


This is a special tattoo because of the emotional connection attached to it, even though the design itself is somewhat simple. It's the symbolism that makes this such an attractive choice — the significance being that an important person, a life, or a memory is being represented.

  • I could also see this being added to a portrait of a family member that had passed from this life. Adding it in the background would be really powerful and would speak to the fact that you wish their heart was still beating in this world.
  • This is one of the few designs that can easily overcome its somewhat quirky and simple look because of the strong emotion attached to it. Whether it's true love, celebration of a new life being brought into the world, or remembrance of a loved one, this is a special design choice that should be considered by those looking to express how they feel about those they're thinking about.

If you're thinking about this unique concept for your next tattoo, see below for some images and design ideas that hopefully inspire you.

Ideas and Inspiration

Click thumbnail to view full-size


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    • profile image

      23 months ago

      fou = crazy

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      mike-mike 24 months ago

      Well, mine - if I ever decide on doing it- would remind me the heartbeat of every single person that matters in my life and the ones that matter despite the fact that their heartbeat stopped. You don't need death or sickness to symbolize your thoughts and feelings. I also prefer the version with the wave in the heartbeat though it's not shown here, just to remind me that life has it's waves but you can always swim through them.

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      Drew Rinella 2 years ago

      Literally every EKG except for one on this page is that of a dead person.

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      Meg 2 years ago

      Im getting this tattoo when I'm 18 because this year i was diagnosed with a great condition. Im going to have one of my ekgs and the quote never stop beating

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      Yool 4 years ago

      L'amour fou is more like Deep Love than crazy love, it means your love can't be quantified, like super duper love , loving to the sky and above :)

      PS : I'm french so i know what i'm talking about ^^

    • profile image

      Reb'l 4 years ago

      The first one is "L'Amour Fou" which means crazy love :)

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      Nursing Student. 5 years ago

      I will get this tattoo when I graduate. Nursing school is tough, real tough. I am in my second year and have another two go! Anyhow, the reason for the tattoo is to remind me how precious life is as well as like this tattoo, life is full of ups and downs. Without downs there are no ups.

    • mary1226 profile image

      mary1226 5 years ago

      I really like the first one!

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      kitkat 5 years ago

      For the first tattoo on the forearm, it's written "l'amour fou" so litteraly in english, it means "crazy love"