Personal heart rate monitors are becoming all the rage in the wearable fitness equipment industry. Wearing one can help you determine whether you’re reaching your workout cardio goals. Heart rate monitors help elite athletes achieve their maximum performance while remaining in a healthy zone.
For heart doctors, the heart rate monitor is an important tool that provides more accurate readings than you can get in just a few minutes in the doctor’s office. Tests to measure your heart functions in a medical setting may include:
- An ECG or EKG that gives the doctor a glimpse of your heart rate at just one moment in time
- The stethoscope, which is only useful when pressed to your heartbeat
- A stress test that may last slightly longer, but remains limited in the amount and level of activity that your doctor can realistically monitor
And then again, you may have the “white coat syndrome” which causes your blood pressure and heart rate to either elevate or slow down when you’re in the doctor’s office. It can be just plain difficult to get the most accurate reading in a sterile setting like that.
Holter Monitor Use
Rather than relying on a questionable personal fitness device that may or may not be medically precise, cardiologists prefer to send you home with a Holter monitor when they want to monitor your heart’s activity continuously for a day or longer.
The Holter monitor is a portable device that records and measures the electrical activity of your heart. It’s the size of a small camera and it’s battery-operated. Wires about the size of a quarter are attached to your skin with sticky tape. The device is entirely pain and risk-free. The worse effect you might experience is an adverse reaction to the adhesive used for the electrodes.
A Holter monitor is especially useful if you’ve been diagnosed with arrhythmia, which is a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmia monitoring can tell your doctor:
- If the medications you’re taking are effectively controlling your heartbeat
- Whether enough oxygen is getting to your heart
- Why you may be having certain symptoms — like fainting, dizziness, heart racing or heart skipping beats
- If you are prone to dangerous life-threatening arrhythmias
It Could Save Your Life
By collecting and understanding your heart’s electrical activity in various everyday situations that you commonly face, your doctor will be able to evaluate symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain, loss of consciousness (called syncope), as well as prevent sudden cardiac arrest and death.
Advances in heart monitoring technology have resulted in mobile telemetry, which allows your physician to monitor your every heartbeat and provide real-time analysis. The capability of automatic arrhythmia detection and instantaneous wireless transmission could be life saving.
In addition to recording your heart’s patterns over a significant period of time, your doctor may also ask you to wear an event monitor that’s programmed to record the electrical impulses in your heart for a short period time, such as five minutes. You must interact with the small device by pushing a button to begin the recording.
For example, you could push the button just before and just after your heart-related symptoms appear. So, if you pushed the button right before you fainted and then pushed it again after you came to, the heart monitor records your heart’s activity while you began to feel faint and then after you recovered consciousness.
If the cause of your symptoms isn’t clear, or your cardiologist suspects you may have a serious asymptomatic arrhythmia, an implantable loop recorder can be life saving. This small device is the size of a pen cap and is inserted under the skin, and can monitor your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years.
The Monitoring Process
You have to follow a few steps and procedures while you’re wearing a Holter monitor, but they aren’t a big deal. The worse thing to happen is that you have a little spot shaved if you have a hairy chest. (It grows back.)
- The electrodes are placed on you before you leave the doctor’s office.
- You can carry the monitor slung over your shoulder like a camera or purse, put it in a pocket or carry it in a pouch at your waist.
- Keep a detailed diary of your activities while wearing the heartbeat monitor
- Follow instructions with regards to removing and reconnecting the device while showering
For more information about heart monitors, contact the knowledgeable specialists at NYC Cardiology, Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates They can help save your life.
Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066