There are several different types of heart rate monitors that vary depending on their functionality. Some are used in hospital settings, and others are used at home during daily activity. Common heart rate monitor types include:
1. Electrocardiogram (EKG)
An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a type of heart monitor that uses ten wires attached to the chest, arms, and legs using stickers called electrodes where the patient is connected, and the wires transmit the waveform of the heart to the screen where it is printed. It is done intermittently and takes no more than 15 minutes to complete.
This machine detects any abnormalities and where they occur. It also helps determine whether a myocardial infarction has occurred, and what part of the heart has been affected.
Dr. Carolina Melgar
Certified Cardiologist“Regularly take EKGs to monitor your heart health. You can take EKGs right from home. There are affordable devices like the EKGraph for under $130.”
2. Bedside Monitor or Telemetry Monitor
A bedside monitor is a machine used in a hospital setting at the patient’s bedside, which uses five to six wires attached to electrodes on the chest to display the waveform of the heart. This type of heart monitor is continuous and can also monitor blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and breathing with additional attachments.
It can also relay information to other computer screens located outside the room. A portable device attached to the patient, making it possible for the patient to move around while transmitting information, is called a telemetry monitor, which only monitors the heart, but both of these instruments are used to display a continuous rhythm of the heart to detect any abnormalities.
3. Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT)
A Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT) is a small portable device that records the patient’s heartbeat during errands, exercise, and sleep, and automatically detects, records and transmits abnormal heart rhythms for up to 30 days.
This heart rate monitor type detects both symptomatic and asymptomatic arrhythmias and has been proven to provide superior diagnostic capability for patients with palpitations, syncope, and presyncope. It also enables accurate monitoring of the patient’s rhythm during outpatient drug titration, as well as the detection of both symptomatic and asymptomatic atrial fibrillation after cardiac ablation.
4. Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM)
An insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) is a small device placed just under the skin that is programmed to continuously detect and monitor your heart’s activities and abnormalities and records them automatically before, during, and after possible cardiac conditions for up to three years.
5. Holter Monitors
A Holter monitor is a type of heart monitor that can either be clipped to a belt or carried in a pocket while it continuously detects and records the heart activity (electrocardiogram or ECG) for one to two days. This battery-operated portable device in a size of a small camera can also be used in or out of the hospital and use wires and electrodes with patches attached to the chest to record the data, which can be reviewed at a later time.
6. Event Monitors
An event monitor is a portable device that uses small sticky pads (electrodes) attached to your chest by wires to the monitor device that is worn on the body for up to 30 days. This take-home heart monitor only records your heart’s electrical activity during symptoms and must be initiated by the user to activate, but some start automatically when they detect abnormal heart rhythms. Most event monitors can send data right to your healthcare provider, while others require it to be downloaded.
Why Monitor Your Heart?
Your doctor may recommend heart monitoring, depending on your situation. It may be recommended if you have AFib, or your doctor suspects that you do so, to assess how often and how long it occurs by detecting the heart’s electrical activity and transmitting the waveform of the heartbeat. Some heart arrhythmias are fatal, while others can be treated or managed on their own. In some instances, your doctor may want to monitor how effective various treatments are in keeping your AFib under control.