A “heart monitor” is a device that is ordered when a patient has a complaint of palpitations, syncope, or a known history of arrhythmia that tracks a patient’s heart rhythm. There are different kinds of heart monitors reviewed below:
- Holter monitors are about the size of a large deck of cards and continuously record rhythm for 24-48 hours. Patients can’t shower with the monitor on, but sponge baths are ok!
- Wireless Holter monitors may be used if a regular Holter doesn’t detect a problem, but the patient continues to have symptoms. These monitors can record for days to weeks, until signs or symptoms of an arrhythmia occur.
- Event monitors, unlike the Holter, only record rhythm at certain times.Patients are supposed to start recording when they feel like they have symptoms. These monitors can be worn for weeks if needed, and can be taken off while patients are showering. They are relatively small and worn like a Holter, with sensor pads on the chest. The King of Hearts monitor is a type of event monitor that is worn for 30 days.
- Continuous loop records (aka presymptom memory loop recorders) are also worn on the body and are continuously recording and erasing data every few minutes. When a patient feels symptoms, they press a button that stops the erasing process and can save the rhythm strips a few minutes before, during, and after an event.
- Implantable loop recorders are, as the name suggests, implanted under the skin and are roughly the size of a pack of gum. They have a long battery life and can be used for monitoring for 2-3 years! They are best in cases of symptoms that occur too infrequently to be picked up by a 30-day monitor, or someone who needs extended monitoring.