Implantable Loop Recorders: A Discreet and Long-Term Solution for Monitoring Heart Rhythm

Posted on December 26, 2023

Simply known in many medical circles as an IRL, an implantable loop record is a life-saving device that provides extended periods of heart monitoring. Your physician may suggest getting fitted with this device if you exhibit unexplained fainting, stroke, and irregular heartbeats. Overall, implantable loop recorders are an excellent solution for getting to the bottom of mysterious symptoms when basic cardiac monitoring tools fall short. With an AF detection sensitivity of more than 95.4%, according to a study published in the National Institutes of Health, it’s not hard to just why they are popular choices for modern medical workflows.

 Implantable Loop Recorders

How Loop Recorders Provide Discrete Heart Monitoring

Imagine if every day you woke up to chest straps and wires dangling all over your body. This would naturally make you very self-conscious about your health. In addition, this would hinder your day-to-day activities like showering and generally get in the way of your life. In fact, you might even succumb to the temptation to take it off at times.

With implantable loop recorders that’s however not a problem that you have to worry about. These devices are inserted right underneath the skin via a minor surgical procedure. As a result, there are no bulky equipment or lead wires to get in your way. Overall, it ensures an efficient solution that doesn’t restrict your normal life. You can exercise, work, and go about your daily activities without worrying about accidentally damaging the equipment or others noticing it.

And because ILRs are also very lightweight, sometimes you may even forget that you have one, which at the end of the day is the key goal. In the meantime, the device runs behind the scenes without any side effects, automatically tracking various heart signals, such as:
1. Heart rate
2. Rhythm
3. Strength of electrical impulses
4. Timing of electrical impulses in the heart, etc.

With many implantable loop recorders, they even automatically electronically send this data to a technician for regular review, unlike other traditional cardiac monitoring devices where data recording is manually triggered by the patient when you experience a symptom.

Why ILRs are great for long-term heart monitoring

There are quite a number of heart monitoring solutions when it comes to picking out cardiac issues. Some of the popular ones besides implantable loop recorders include:

1. Holter monitors
2. Cardiac event recorders
3. Mobile Cardiac Telemetry devices

However, with all these technologies you get at most 2 weeks to 1 month of monitoring. Yet, there are cases where your heart may need monitoring for months, to be able to capture brief irregularities that occur sometimes weeks apart.

That’s where an Implantable Loop Recorder proves ideal. With tremendous battery life, your typical ILR can go on to provide service for up to 4 years. Therefore, it helps pick out slight and subtle heartbeat changes that the above technologies may fail to discover.

The two different types of loop recorders

Other times, you may hear your physician use the term insertable cardiac monitor or ICM, but they are essentially just talking about the same thing, namely an implantable loop recorder. The first name came about due to new age loop recorders which patients can get fitted with in just 5 to 12 minutes by cutting into the skin and placing the device underneath via a syringe.

Overall, the difference between new models and traditional designs lies in the difference in the manner of implantation. With the traditional ones being about 5 cm long, implantation occurs via a small incision made during surgery. The same is the case for new-age ones are typically just 1 or 2 inches in size, however, the device is delivered via a special syringe.

It’s worth noting that the device is placed inside a little pocket created under the skin during the incision and that local anesthesia is used to numb the target area. This means that you can remain conscious for the procedure, which lasts for just a few minutes and is relatively painless.

The benefits of an implantable loop recorder

Sometimes, you may experience mysterious episodes of blacking out, yet the physician can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. They may turn to an implantable loop recorder to help pick out the course for such abnormal symptoms, among others, so that you can finally get a permanent fix for your problem.

Other benefits of using implantable loop recorders include:

Insights into your heart health

Some people have a really high resting heart rate. While this may be an indication of heart problems like tachycardia, other times the sources of this problem may have to do with controllable factors such as:
1. Chronic stress
2. Inactivity
3. Dehydration

Too much caffeine and so on.
An implantable loop recorder makes it possible to correlate an aggravation in symptoms with certain activities or habits, thus making it possible to pinpoint possible causes of an elevated heart rate, among other problems. Armed with this information, you can make better lifestyle choices to improve your heart health.

Data about your emotional health

In the same breath, an implantable loop recorder can help pinpoint psychological triggers that worsen your heart vitals. This allows you to identify both hidden and clear causes of mental and emotional stress in your life so that you can make the right lifestyle adjustments as well.

Aversion of extreme cardiac events

If the source of your cardiac problems or symptoms continues to go unaddressed, chances are that this can lead to a potentially fatal medical event. For example, some arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation can eventually lead to heart attacks and cardiac arrest.

By being able to identify such arrhythmias early enough, implantable loop recorders help you and your physician to make proactive medical interventions to lower the risk of such events and ensure more positive health outcomes.

Learn more about ILRs with Cardiac Rhythm

Implantable loop devices help to detect arrhythmias and even predict them in some cases, ensuring care that’s not just reactive but proactive as well. At the end of the day, this simple yet critical device means the difference between life and death for thousands of people around the world. If your physician has suggested the idea of an implantable loop recorder for you or a family member, Cardiac Rhythm is here to help you out. Whether you have questions about the technology and its costs or desire an experienced provider of discrete and long-term monitoring solutions, be sure to contact us today.