Holter and Event Monitors
One challenge with diagnosing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) is the brief snapshot we get from a standard electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). These tests are useful, but only record your heart activity in three- to five-second bursts. This means we may see no abnormal electrical activity while you are sitting quietly in the doctor’s office, but may miss arrhythmias that appear later as you go about your daily activities. Your heart rate can fluctuate drastically as you experience activities such as eating, sleeping, exercising, being under stress, and having sex.
At Cross County Cardiology – Mount Sinai, we use a variety of diagnostic procedures. In many cases—especially if you feel your heart racing or beating too strongly (palpitations) —we may want more extensive measurements over a longer period of time. This can help us detect abnormal rhythms and determine what may be causing them. It can also show us whether a medication you are taking is helping.
Types of Monitors
We use several types of “wearable monitors” to show us your heart’s electrical activity over a longer period. These devices are small, and you can easily and comfortably wear them. For instance, we may use a type of a wristwatch or an unobtrusive electrode attached to your chest, which hides under your clothing. If you feel your heart racing or beating too strongly while you are wearing one of these devices, we may ask you to call your doctor’s office. Then we can access transmit the information and analyze it in real time.
Other monitors record your heart’s activity for longer periods. Patients can wear a Holter monitor, for example, for 24 hours. Then you can return it to our office for analysis. If necessary, for example if we are concerned about a dangerous arrhythmia, we can use a wireless Holter monitor that allows remote analysis.
If the cardiac events we are looking for don’t appear during a 24-hour period, we can use an event recorder. Patients can wear these for up to 30 days. They have an activation device that you can use to start recording if you experience palpitations. Your cardiologist can then analyze the resulting data to determine what may be causing the abnormal rhythms. This will help us determine how best to treat you.