Your doctor may require cardiac monitoring for a specific time, whether overnight, days, or weeks. If it is suspected that you may have a heart condition that should be monitored closely, or you are currently recovering from heart surgery, you may need to wear some form of a heart monitor. Each device is different and serves a specific purpose.
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A Holter monitor is essentially a portable EKG device that is continuously monitoring your heart rate. This device can be worn for a day or up to two weeks. The device records the electrical activity in your heart, which your heart doctor will review later. It has electrodes that attach to the skin on your chest, with the device itself small enough to be carried in a pocket. If your doctor suspects you have heart arrhythmia, which has not been confirmed with a standard EKG, you may need to wear this device.
Other conditions that may be suspected that would lead to the need for a Holter monitor include atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat that may lead to the development of blood clots, a stroke, heart failure, or other conditions), ventricular tachycardia (a type of abnormal heart rhythm in which the lower heart chamber beats too fast), and supraventricular tachycardia (a condition in which the heart will suddenly beat far faster than normal).
Implantable Loop Recorders
This type of heart monitor is implanted beneath the skin of your chest. It may be ordered if you suffer from fainting, heart palpitations, or heart rhythms that put you at risk of a stroke. Your cardiologist places the device beneath your skin, above your heart, in a minor procedure. It functions as a mobile EKG for ongoing heart monitoring to help diagnose abnormal heart rhythms that may be the cause of your symptoms.
Implantable Pulmonary Artery Sensor
It may be necessary to monitor the progress of a treatment for heart failure with an implantable device. This system uses a sensor that measures your artery pressure and your heart rate. The device is very small, about the size of a dime, and is implanted in a simple, outpatient procedure.
You will not feel discomfort as you will be administered a mild sedative, so the implantation procedure is performed without stress or pain. A catheter is inserted in your femoral vein (in the thigh), guided by X-rays.
It is threaded through the vein to your heart and to your pulmonary artery. Once the artery is accessed, the sensor is released into the artery.