How Does an Implantable Cardiac Monitor Help with Palpitation

Posted on April 3, 2023

Heart palpitations are episodes involving sensations of aggravated heartbeats, typically accompanied by an elevated respiratory level. A good reference for what a heart palpitation feels like, is the state your body is in usually after intense exercise or physical activity. For the most part, heart palpitations are perfectly normal as long as there are traceable natural causes that account for them. However, they may also be a sign of a more serious condition that warrants medical intervention. That’s where a cardiac ECG monitoring service can come in to help discern harmless palpitations from those that need to be taken seriously.

Symptoms and causes of palpitations

We’ve already described that exercise could be a trigger for heart palpitations. But there are many other causes which can include:

    1. Spicy food
    2. Alcohol
    3. Caffeine
    4. Medication
    5. Pregnancy, etc.

Palpitations are commonplace and may feel like extra heartbeats, or a more intense pounding or flip-flopping of the heart.

A physical examination is usually the first line of action

Before your physician can recommend an ECG test of any sort, they will first sit down with you to understand your medical history. Heart palpitations can be caused by lifestyle habits (such as excessive caffeine consumption) or can be commonplace in persons with:

    1. Thyroid dysfunction
    2. Hypertension
    3. Lung disease

Once the preliminaries are done, your doctor may then now suggest following this up with a cardiac ECG monitoring service to augment initial assessment findings.

When a cardiac monitor is ideal for heart palpitations

Conventionally, heart palpitations don’t last long. A single episode could span just a few minutes or seconds. If you have heart palpitations that last way too long or occur so frequently and without a clear cause, this may hint at a possible, underlying arrhythmia.

To know for sure, an EKG may be the way to go. Your cardiologist may recommend a holter monitor at first. This technology can provide monitoring for between 1 to 2 days, giving your physician an insider’s perspective into your heart’s electric activity.

However, some palpitations can manifest sporadically across the span of days and may be missed by a standard EKG. If a holter monitor doesn’t uncover anything, your physician may suggest long-term cardiac remote patient monitoring for up to 30 days.

Alternatively, a clinician may also recommend other portable ECD devices when a standard ECG examination falls short. For instance, your doctor may recommend Cardiac Rhythm’s 2-in-1 heart biosensors, which serve both long- and short-term monitoring needs.

How implantable cardiac monitors help with palpitations

Known as an ICM for short, an implantable cardiac monitor keeps tabs on the electrical activity of the heart for the long haul. Such a device negates the need for a traditional monitor which can be bulky and uncomfortable for the patient, given the number of lead attachments. It is called an implantable cardiac monitor because it’s usually placed beneath the skin via minor surgery.

The device should be able to provide monitoring service for 3 to 4 years, depending on the:

    1. Battery capacity
    2. Frequency of transmission
    3. Device Model and much more

This design negates the need for external leads, as the device can typically pick up electrical activity directly when placed superimposing the heart. It can record data during intermittent episodes of heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations can be a result of premature ventricular contractions (PVs), whereby your lower heart chambers generate the electrical signal to initiate a heartbeat, resulting in extra beats. Hence the fluttering or pounding sensation in the chest.

Via an implantable cardiac monitor, technicians can perform ECG interpretations to pick out PVCs. While we’ll not go into the fine print, ECG technicians will generally be watching for over overly long QRS complexes. Moreover, the scorer will be on the lookout for abnormal shapes of this waveform, and its premature occurrence as well.
It’s worth pointing out that PVCs could also be down to lifestyle or dietary factors as we previously pointed out. If an implantable cardiac monitor is unable to pinpoint an arrhythmia or heart problem, your physician should be able to work out other causes.

Treatment for heart palpitations

The approach to treatment will directly depend on what’s causing your palpitations. If it’s triggered by an action or habit within your control, your physician may advise accordingly. In particular, your doctor will suggest putting in place measures to curtail the root triggers of your palpitations, such as dietary changes.
If your palpitations are caused by an arrhythmia, more advanced medical interventions may be executed to correct your condition. The exact course of treatment will depend on the type of arrhythmia you may have.

Some types of arrythmias that can result in heart palpitations include:

    1. Atrial flutter
    2. Atrial fibrillation
    3. Supraventricular tachycardia
    4. Ventricular fibrillation

Heart palpitations can be a common symptom for a wide range of arrhythmias so an ECG is always necessary. In terms of treatment options, this may oscillate between corrective surgery and medication. Your physician may prescribe drugs such as beta blockers to slow an accelerated heart rate and thus provide relief from heart palpitations.
In more severe cases, there may be a need for the patient to go under the knife. One such common procedure is catheter ablation, which boasts a 90% success rate in arrhythmia identification and treatment, particularly in cases of tachycardia (fast heartbeats.)

That being said, it’s probably likely that you won’t need medication or surgery to fix your heart palpitations. But it’s still important to get a professional diagnosis to alleviate any doubts.

Heart palpitations are not to be brushed aside

More often than not, heart palpitations are normal. When an implantable cardiac monitor is unable to pinpoint a particular arrhythmia, lifestyle or dietary factors may be to blame. Heart palpations may not be life-threatening. As a matter of fact, most of them usually aren’t. But when they occur too often, they can damage the heart muscle and lead to more serious issues. It’s important to get in touch with your physician for further investigation in case you have frequent heart palpitations. From our experience as one of the top cardiac event monitoring companies, we always recommend ECG testing to know for sure just what’s behind your heart palpitations.

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