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Cardiac Event Monitoring

What happens before the test?

  • If you are getting a monitor with electrode pads on your chest:

    • Several areas on your chest may be shaved and cleaned. Then a small amount of gel will be put on those areas. The electrode pads will then be attached to the skin of your chest. Thin wires will connect the electrodes to the monitor.
    • You will get instructions for how and when to change the electrodes at home.
    • You will be given instructions on how to wear or carry the monitor. 
    • Some types of monitors don’t use electrode pads. Some types are worn on your wrist like a watch. Others are stuck to your chest with a sticky patch. Or you may have a monitor that you carry with you. Your doctor will explain which type of monitor you have and how to use it.

What happens during the test?

  • Your monitor may start recording on its own when it detects an abnormal heartbeat. Or you may need to do something to start the recording when you have symptoms. You might use a handheld device to start the monitor. Or you may need to press a button on the monitor itself. Your doctor will explain which type you have and what you need to do.
  • You may keep a diary of what you were doing when you had symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness. Your doctor will show you how to do this.
  • You may need to send the information from your monitor to your doctor through a phone line or online. Some monitors send it automatically. You will get instructions from your doctor. Your information will stay private and secure whether you send it or it is sent automatically.
  • You may be able to do most of the things you usually do. But it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for bathing, exercise, and other daily activities.

What happens after the test?

  • You’ll return the monitor to your doctor’s office or hospital.
  • You’ll meet with your doctor to talk about the information recorded during your test.
  • Your doctor will check your diary of symptoms. He or she will compare the timing of your activities and symptoms with the recorded heart pattern.
  • Depending on your test results, your doctor may talk with you about other tests or treatment options.
  • Your doctor will give you extra instructions on what to do when the test is done.
  • You may return to the doctor’s office or hospital to have the pads removed. Or you may be able to take them off yourself by following the instructions.
  • Your doctor will tell you how to return the monitor.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away

How long does the test take?

You may use the monitor for up to a month or longer. It depends on how long it takes to record irregular heartbeat episodes. It also depends on how long your doctor wants to keep monitoring your heart.

What is Cardiac Event Monitoring?

Cardiac event monitoring is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart. The test is done with a heart monitor device that you may wear for 24 hours or up to a month. This test may be done to find out why you’re having symptoms. Or it may be done to look for heartbeats that are too fast, too slow, or irregular. These are cardiac events.

The monitor will give your doctor information similar to an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). An EKG translates the heart’s electrical activity into line tracings on paper. This type of testing has many different names. It is sometimes called an ambulatory monitor, an ambulatory electrocardiogram, or an ambulatory EKG. It can also be called a 24-hour EKG or a cardiac event monitor

There are different types of monitors. Your doctor will choose the type that works best for you and is most likely to help diagnose your heart problem.

These monitors are safe to use. No electricity is sent through your body, so there is no chance of getting an electric shock.

Why do I need this test done?

You may have this test to find out if you have a problem with your heart, such as irregular heartbeats. Because these kinds of heartbeats can come and go, it may be hard to record one while you are in the doctor’s office. Monitoring your heart for a longer time and during your normal activities makes it easier to capture your cardiac events.

It can help your doctor find out what is causing chest pain, fainting, lightheadedness, or other symptoms of heart problems. It also can help the doctor check to see if treatment for an irregular heartbeat is working.

What else should I know?

  • Your doctor will tell you if you need to stay away from strong electromagnetic fields while wearing a monitor. These may include items such as magnets, microwave ovens, and electric blankets.
  • The pads may make your skin itch a little. And your skin may look or feel irritated after the pads are removed.
  • Some of the pads may not get wet during the test. You will be instructed if the type of monitor you are wearing can not get wet. It is recommended to take a shower or bath before the pads are put onto your chest. 

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

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