What Is a Wearable Cardiac Monitor?
A wearable cardiac monitor, also known as ambulatory heart monitor, is a portable device that is used to monitor the electrical activity of the heart, much like an electrocardiogram (EKG) that is obtained in the doctor’s office.
Types of Wearable Cardiac Monitors
The Holter monitor, named after the Holter Research Laboratory in Helena, Montana, where it was developed, is one of the earliest types of cardiac monitor. Designed in 1949, the original Holter monitor was able to record heart rhythm for 24 to 48 hours. A variety of devices that can monitor heart rhythm up to 30 days are now available.
The portable recording monitor is connected to several sticky patches (one to four), which will be applied to your chest. You will wear the monitor continuously for the time recommended by your physician. Depending on the type of monitor you will use, you may be able to remove and reapply the patches if your skin becomes irritated, or if you want to take a shower or swim.
Some of these monitors include a patient-activator option, which enables you to trigger the monitor to record your heart rhythm while you are experiencing symptoms. The recording gives your doctor information about your heart, in addition to your symptoms during arrhythmia episodes.
Your doctor may ask you to wear the monitor from 24 hours up to 30 days, depending on the kind of heart symptoms you experience and on how often you have symptoms. The physician may set up the monitor while you are in the office or mail the monitor to you with instructions on how to put it on.
After the recommended monitoring duration, you will return the monitor to your doctor’s office or mail it to a central monitoring center, as instructed. The electrophysiologist (EP) will review the results and discuss them with you.
It is important to note both the nature of the symptoms you experience while wearing the monitor and the time these symptoms occur. We recommend that you keep a diary of your symptoms and bring it to your physician’s office.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Wearable Cardiac Monitors
- How long should I wear the monitor?
- How can I get the monitor?
- How do I return the monitor?
- How long will it take to receive my results?
- What should I do if I receive a call from the monitoring center?
- What should I do if I have sensitive skin or an allergy to tape or latex?
- What should I do if the EKG patches irritate my skin?
- Should I wear the monitor while sleeping?
- Can I take a shower or swim while wearing the monitor?
- Can I continue my normal activities while wearing the monitor?