Implanted Cardiac Monitor

What is an Implanted Cardiac Monitor?

An Implanted Cardiac Monitor is a heart rhythm device that is implanted in the body underneath the skin on the chest. This device constantly records the heart rhythm and has a battery that can last for over 3 years. The device is very small; about the size of an AAA battery.

Inserting an implanted cardiac monitor is a simple and straightforward procedure, which usually takes about 5 minutes. The Cardiologist usually performs this in an operating room under sterile conditions.

 

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When is an Implanted Cardiac Monitor Required?

In Australia, there are two main reasons an Implanted Cardiac Monitor is used.

Firstly, you may need an implanted cardiac monitor if you have fainting episodes or blackouts, and if investigations have not been able to identify a clear cause.

Secondly, an implanted cardiac monitor may sometimes be recommended for patients who have a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA – or mini-stroke), to assess if there is a risk of Atrial Fibrillation being related to the stroke.

You might also need an implanted monitor if one of our cardiologists wants to look for very fast or slow heartbeats. These abnormal heartbeats can cause palpitations, or even lead to strokes.

Your Cardiologist will probably start with tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG), but as this only records your heart rhythm for a few seconds, they may not be able to analyse the specific rhythm problem that causes your symptoms.

How to Prepare for an Implanted Cardiac Monitor

Implanted Cardiac Monitors are commonly inserted during a procedure at hospital. You will have specific instructions prior to the procedure from your Cardiologist or the hospital. Your instructions may include avoiding eating or drinking for several hours prior.

Follow your Cardiologist’s instructions about what medicines to take before the procedure. Do not stop taking any medicine unless your provider tells you to do so.

What Happens During Insertion of an Implanted Cardiac Monitor?

Normally, you can expect the following:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax.
  • Local anaesthetic will be injected under your skin to numb it.
  • Your cardiologist will make a small incision (1-2cm) in the sckin of your chest on the upper left side.
  • The implanted cardiac monitor will be inserted under the skin and the incision will be closed with steri-strips.
  • A bandage may need to stay in place on the skin for 5-7 days.

After the procedure, ask your Cardiologist about what to expect after your procedure. In most cases:

  • You will be able to go home the day of the procedure.
  • You can ask for pain medicine if you need it.
  • You can return to normal activities after the procedure.
  • Tell your Doctor if you have bleeding or swelling at the insertion site.

What Happens After I have an Implanted Cardiac Monitor Inserted?

Your Implanted Cardiac Monitor will continuously record your heart rhythm and can stay in place for over three years.

The device will automatically record and store recordings of abnormal heart rhythm, and you can initiate a recording if you have symptoms using a handheld activator. Implanted cardiac monitors are also able to connect to a remote transmitter and through this pass their information on to the cardiology office. Data transmission is usually scheduled to occur overnight with the remote transmiter being placed in the bedroom near where you sleep.

If you have a remote monitoring subscription, your recordings will be regularly reviewed, and your Cardiologist may contact you directly if there is any concern with your rhythm.

Risks

Most people have the procedure without any problems. However, sometimes problems happen. These might include:

  • Minor bleeding or bruising at the implantation site
  • Infection (might require device removal)
  • Mild pain at the implantation site
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