Heart rhythm monitors are a set of diagnostic tools we use to help evaluate the rhythm of your heart. By using these different monitoring systems we can look for arrhythmias or irregularities in your heart beat. There are two main irregularities we look for bradycardia and tachycardia. With bradycardia the heart is beating at fewer than 60 beats per minute, while tachycardia is a rhythm that is too fast at more than 100 beats per minute. Some of the monitoring and diagnostic tools we use are an in-office electrocardiogram or an out-of-office wearable holter or event monitor.. In this condition, not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart muscle. “Silent” means that no symptoms occur.
ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram) is a simple, in-office test. During the test we will place up to twelve electrodes (adhesive plastic patches) to the skin of your chest, arms and legs. The electrodes are adhesive plastic patches that are attached to an ECG by lead wires. The electrodes are painless and easy to attach. These electrodes record your heart’s electrical activity and do not send any electricity into the body. Through these recordings, we will be able to see if there is any potential damage to the heart or irregularities of your heartbeat during the test.
Holter monitors are portable, mini-ECGs that captures the heart’s electrical activity over a period of 24 hours. The monitor is about the size of a small camera and can be placed in a pocket or purse, and is worn continuously. There are also longer term monitors that are useful for patients with palpitations that occur less frequently than on a daily basis. Some of these monitors are just patches worn on the chest for a couple of weeks and are wireless. Another type of monitor is a portable “heart card,” which is a device smaller than a cell phone that is put up against the chest to record the heartbeat irregularity when it occurs. If needed, we can prescribe longer term monitors implanted under the skin to pick up all abnormal heart beats over the course of up to 3 years. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate monitor, individualized to your specific symptoms.
Regardless of which monitoring system a patient needs, great care is taken to ensure that using any of the monitors is as easy and comfortable as possible and that we respond and analyze all of the readings we receive promptly.