Heart Monitoring Devices - What All Patients Need To know

Posted on October 18, 2022

When your heart beats, it generates a pulse and a rhythm. Heart rate monitoring devices record this electrical activity which is then examined by a cardiologist or ECG technician to figure out if you have an arrhythmia, or if there are any other issues with your heart health. In the past, heart monitoring devices used to be bulky technology. Today, most such devices are so portable and lightweight that they fit into your grasp. If you’re here to learn more about heart rate monitoring, how they work, what they do, and why they’re necessary, read on as we give you the complete 411. Take a look.

How heart rate monitors work

While the specific parameters and functionality of heart monitoring devices generally vary depending on the device make, the underlying concept is generally the same. Most such devices are today no larger than the size of a pager, with some containing electrodes or sensors and others transmitting data wirelessly.

These sensors record your heart activity beat by beat and then transmit this data to a receiver. From this data, an ECG (Electrocardiogram)- a simple chart or graph tracking your heart vitals- is generated and interpreted by a physician.

Types of heart rate monitoring devices

Well, there are countless varieties of heart health monitoring devices. However, some popular varieties include the following:

    ILRs or implanted loop recorders: This is a tiny battery-sized device that goes into your chest and tracks your heart’s electrical activity. ILRs help physicians delve into the root cause of several problems including fainting and strokes. The device requires a minor surgical procedure to get it beneath the chest skin.

    Patch recorders: Unlike patch recorders, ILRs are simply attached to the exterior of your chest and patients are therefore able to use them without needing surgery. It is devoid of electrodes or wires and latches on through an adhesive. Typically, patch recorders are used to record heart activity for 2 weeks or 14 days on average

    Symptom event monitor: This is a more periodic ECG recording device that only records your heart when you’re experiencing symptoms. It is mostly patient-triggered, and you can put it on during an event to track your heart activity during an episode so your doctor can better understand your condition, and its triggers and reach a diagnosis

    Holter monitors: A holter monitor is a portable cardiac monitor that attaches to your chest by way of electrodes. Patients normally wear the device for a day or two under a physician’s recommendations.

Why are people put on heart monitors?

If you experience certain symptoms that your doctor can’t quite put a finger on, then he may recommend a heart health monitor to get to the bottom of your medical mystery. Typically, you can get an electrocardiogram (or ECG) during an in-person examination with your physician.

However, since the test covers just a few brief moments, some irregularities may not be picked up, more so if they occur infrequently and unpredictably. Hence, your physician may suggest heart monitoring at home to cast a wider net.

Mostly, you’ll be placed on a holter monitor for between 24-48 hours so that your doctor can better understand your heart vitals around the clock. If the ECG results remain inconclusive, then long-term holter monitoring of up to 7 days may be explored.

To sum it all up, people are often placed on heart monitors for the following reasons:

    1. If you’ve experienced a cardiac event, fainting, and other symptoms that doctors would like to investigate, your heart could be monitored
    2. Just to be certain. Certain arrhythmias can occur asymptomatically or without any clear symptoms or signs. Heart health monitoring devices are a sure-fire way to confirm or dismiss any suspicion.

Is a heart monitor serious?

There’s no cause for concern if your doctor suggests a heart rate monitoring device. The symptoms you may have experienced may have little to do with your heart health, but your doctor may just want to double-check.

Additionally, being diagnosed with an arrhythmia doesn’t mean the end of the road. Many people live and thrive with such irregularities. In the US alone, 5% of the population has an arrhythmia.

The good news though is most arrhythmias aren’t serious to necessitate treatment and those that do are often treatable with patients going on to lead fulfilling and healthy.

Also concerning the rumor that heart monitors transmit dangerous radiation, nothing could be further from the truth. So are heart rate monitors harmful? The science says absolutely not.

Why do you need to track your heart rate if you’re healthy?

You may feel perfectly healthy but there still could be something wrong within. You may have a high resting heart rate and not know about it until you black out and find yourself in the emergency room.
Tracking your heart rate and rhythm is important for identifying cases of:

    1. Tachycardia
    2. Bradycardia
    3. Afib and other irregularities

When your data is tracked, early signs of heart failure or cardiac arrests can be detected and thus an adverse event can be completely averted. On the flip side when arrhythmias go untreated, the consequences can be dire. Your heart may give out and other body organs like the brain may also be severely damaged, which is why it’s important to get a heart checkup with your doctor regularly.

Cardiac Rhythm is here for your heart

When it comes to your heart health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Arrhythmias don’t often manifest in visible symptoms which is why many of them go by the grim sobriquet “silent killers.” While not all arrhythmias are life-threatening, some can be, which is why it is important that you regularly check up on your heart via cardiac monitoring services. Beyond identifying chronic conditions, here at Cardiac Rhythm, we can also help diagnose your arrhythmia and its triggers which may be down to controllable lifestyle challenges like medication, stress, and anxiety. Reach out to us if you’d like to get an ECG done or simply want more information on securing your heart health.

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