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Ambulatory Electrocardiogram

How It Is Done continued...

Another type of continuous recorder can be put under the skin of the chest. This recorder can be kept in your chest for more than a year. During that time, it records the electrical signals from your heart.

Intermittent recorders

Another kind of ambulatory EKG monitoring is the intermittent recorder. This is used when symptoms of an abnormal heart rhythm do not happen very often. This kind of recorder can be used for a longer time than a continuous recorder. The information collected by an intermittent recorder can often be sent over the phone to a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital.

You may be told to call your doctor, clinic, or hospital while you are having symptoms or soon after you record your heart rhythm. This way the information on the monitor can be looked at right away.

The way intermittent recording is done depends on the type of monitor being used.

  • Loop recorder. A loop recorder constantly records your heartbeats. It lets you track when you have symptoms. Loop recorders also save a small amount of information about how your heart was beating when you pressed the recording button. This is called presymptom recording. This feature is especially useful for people who pass out when their heart problems occur and can press the button only after they wake up.
    • Electrodes will be attached to your chest in the same way as with a continuous recorder. When you have symptoms, you press a button on the monitor to record your heart rhythm. If you pass out, you should start the recorder as soon as you wake up. Also, be sure a friend or family member knows how to start the recorder if you pass out.
    • One type of loop recorder can be placed under the skin of your chest. This is done with surgery. The recorder can be worn for several weeks. This may be a good choice for people who have symptoms that happen rarely, such as once every 6 months. The recorder may start recording on its own when it detects an abnormal heartbeat. Or you might use a handheld device to start the monitor when symptoms occur.
  • Event monitor. This small device records your heartbeats only when you have symptoms. You are not attached to the machine. There are two types of event monitors.
    • One type is worn on the wrist like a watch. When you have symptoms, you press a button to start the EKG recording.
    • The other type is a device that you carry where you can reach it easily, such as in your purse or pocket. When you have symptoms, you press the back of the device against your chest. Then you press a button to start the recording. The back of the device has small metal discs that work like electrodes. These handheld monitors can be very small (some are about the size and shape of a credit card). The event monitor records heart signals only when you hold it against your chest.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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