With the alarming rise in the deaths due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), present medical research scenario places notable importance on techniques and methods to detect CVDs. As adduced by world health organization, technological proceeds in the field of cardiac function assessment have become the nucleus and heart of all leading research studies in CVDs in which electrocardiogram (ECG) analysis is the most functional and convenient tool used to test the range of heart-related irregularities. Most of the approaches present in the literature of ECG signal analysis consider noise removal, rhythm-based analysis, and heartbeat detection to improve the performance of a cardiac pacemaker. Advancements achieved in the field of ECG segments detection and beat classification have a limited evaluation and still require clinical approvals. In this paper, approaches on techniques to implement on-chip ECG detector for a cardiac pacemaker system are discussed. Moreover, different challenges regarding the ECG signal morphology analysis deriving from medical literature is extensively reviewed. It is found that robustness to noise, wavelet parameter choice, numerical efficiency, and detection performance are essential performance indicators required by a state-of-the-art ECG detector. Furthermore, many algorithms described in the existing literature are not verified using ECG data from the standard databases. Some ECG detection algorithms show very high detection performance with the total number of detected QRS complexes. However, the high detection performance of the algorithm is verified using only a few datasets. Finally, gaps in current advancements and testing are identified, and the primary challenge remains to be implementing bullseye test for morphology analysis evaluation. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.