Detailed information is key to an accurate diagnosis and solid treatment plan. For some cardiovascular patients, heart function data collected over time can provide the details our cardiologists need to make informed treatment decisions.
Patients with chest pain, irregular heartbeat or other signs and symptoms of heart disease may be placed on a wearable heart monitor to collect this important data over time. This diagnostic tool is particularly helpful when an electrocardiogram (often called ECG or EKG) less information than we need or when your doctor wants to gain a broader view of your overall heart rhythm function.
What is a continuous heart monitor?
You may have heard of a “Holter monitor,” which is one type of heart monitor. Depending on the data we need, you may be monitored through a wearable pack, such as a Holter monitor, or a wireless patch like the Zio patch that sticks to your chest.
Regardless of the type, the monitor tracks and records your heartbeats during normal activities, within a set period of time — often two to 30 days. During the testing period, electrodes (painless electrical conductors) are connected to the chest. You wear the monitor at home, at work and at all other times during the testing period.
You’ll go about your normal daily and nightly activities. Your heartbeats are monitored and recorded constantly, except while showering, swimming or doing any activity that would cause excessive sweating because water can cause the electrodes to loosen or detach.
At the end of the testing period, your cardiologist will review and interpret the data and make a plan with you based on that information.
Types of heart monitoring
Based on your symptoms and medical history, your cardiologist may recommend one of two approaches to heart monitoring:
Continuous recording: In this approach, the heart monitor records the continuous beating of the heart during the testing period. This continuous data allows your cardiology team to pinpoint any abnormalities in the heart rhythm.
Loop recording: With this approach (also called an event monitor) patients press a button to record the echo sample whenever they feel symptoms (such as dizziness, chest pain, fluttering). This signals the Holter monitor to record the event as it is happening.
Is heart monitoring right for you?
Heart monitoring can be done when arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) is suspected but not seen on an electrocardiogram test. Because arrhythmias can occur in passing or when a patient is being more active, they can go undetected unless longer, more active testing is done.
To find out if you need heart monitoring, call to schedule an appointment with a Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular cardiologist.