Heart Monitors and How They Work

Holter Monitors

Holter monitors continuously record your heart's activity. These monitors may either be wired or wireless. Wired monitors connect to cathodes on your chest via small wires and record your heart's activity for 24 to 48 hours. Wireless monitors also require chest cathodes, but communicate information wirelessly. A patient can wear a wireless monitor for several weeks at a time. It is necessary, however, to change the battery in wireless monitors every 24 to 48 hours.

Presymptom Memory Loop Recorders

A presymptom memory loop recorder, like a wired monitor, connects to your chest via sticky sensors wired to the recording device, which is roughly the size of a cellular telephone. Unlike the monitor, however, the presymptom memory loop recorder continuously records and then erases data. Should you feel a symptom, such as an irregular heartbeat or chest pain, you can push a button on the recorder that will register the symptom. The recorder will then stop to erase data recorded during the episode.

Implantable Recorders

An implantable recorder does not require you to press a button or wear an external monitor. These types of monitors are implanted directly into your chest cavity. Implantable monitors vary considably. While some record data automatically and continuously, others require you to 'activate' the device when you experience irregular heart activity. Still other varieties of implantable monitors record data automatically but only do so when irregular heart activity occurs.

Fetal Heart Monitors

Fetal heart monitors are used to measure the stress a fetus experiences either during daily activity or during childbirth. Most doctors will attempt external monitoring first by placing sticky sensors along the mother's uterus and recording the fetus's heart rate during contractions or other activities. In the event external monitors return data that is difficult or impossible to read, a physician may opt for an internal fetal monitor. Internal monitors are placed directly on a fetus's scalp while the child is still in his or her mother's uterus and transmits a record of the baby's heart activity to external equipment.

Your cardiovascular health depends on a variety of factors such as your age, weight, exercise habits and heredity. If you suspect that you suffer from trouble, see a physician immediately. A monitor can help your physician provide you with a more accurate diagnosis that may just save your life.