Thumbnail image of: Nodes Responsible for Cardiac Rhythm: Illustration

Cardiac Event Monitor

What is a cardiac event monitor?

A cardiac event monitor is a small device that records the electrical activity of your heart when you push a button. You wear it during your normal daily activities, including sleeping.

When is it used?

The event monitor records your heartbeat when you have symptoms while you do your usual activities. Your provider may recommend this monitor if you have symptoms that come and go, such as:

  • Feeling that your heart is beating harder, faster, or slower than usual or that it is skipping beats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Chest pain

Symptoms that may be caused by a problem with your heart may not happen while you are in your healthcare provider’s office. Cardiac event monitoring records your heartbeat at the time you have symptoms. The monitor can help your provider see problems and decide on treatment.

If you are being treated for a heart problem, an event monitor can also be used to see how well the treatment is working.

What happens during the test?

There are different kinds of event monitors. They can be worn like a wristwatch or carried in your purse or pocket like a cell phone. The monitor may be attached to your chest with wires and sticky patches. You need to carry the monitor with you at all times.

Some monitors will sense your heart rhythm and record abnormal rhythms automatically. With other monitors, when you have pain or other symptoms, you push a button and the monitor records your heart rhythm at that time. Some monitors may also save information about the rhythm just before and after the event. You will be given a diary to record your activities and symptoms. Your provider will ask you to write down the date and time and:

  • List your activities, such as walking, resting, and eating.
  • List any symptoms you have, what you were doing when you had the symptoms, and the date and time for each entry in the diary.
  • Write down when you take your medicine.

It is very important that you write down what you were doing when you had symptoms. Your provider needs to know what brings on your symptoms. Call 911 for emergency help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack. The most common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Trouble breathing
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason
  • If your provider has prescribed nitroglycerin for angina, pain that does not go away after taking your nitroglycerin as directed

Along with these symptoms, you may also feel very tired, faint, or be sick to your stomach.

What happens after the test?

When you return to the office or clinic, your healthcare provider will remove any patches and wires and review your diary and the information recorded by the monitor. Some monitors can send information to your healthcare provider’s office automatically, using technology similar to a cell phone. Your provider will discuss the results with you at your next visit, or sooner if needed.

What are the risks of this test?

Your skin might be irritated by the adhesive on the patches. Skin irritation will quickly go away after the patches are removed.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-18
Last reviewed: 2014-04-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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