What Is a Cardiac Monitor For?

A cardiac monitor, also called a cardiac event recorder, is used to record heart activity in people with heart problems or irregularities, according to the American Heart Association. The cardiac monitor records an electrocardiogram, or ECG, during symptoms such as dizziness or slow heartbeat. The record of the ECG allows doctors see the heart's activity at a point in time, and at rest, to identify possible causes of symptoms.

A cardiac monitor is a risk-free tool that one uses to record heart rhythm and heart rate during symptoms. There are two types of cardiac monitors: a looping memory monitor and a symptom event monitor. Symptom event monitors can be worn on the wrist or handheld. When a symptom occurs, the user pushes a button to record, and the ECG is stored in the memory. A looping memory monitor differs, in that it records an ECG for the period before and during symptoms. It can be programmed to record for a specific period of time. Monitors can transmit results to a receiving center through a telephone, and based on the results, a doctor can determine if the event is an emergency.

If used properly, the monitor can show a doctor why a user may be having dizziness, chest pain, faintness or irregular heartbeat. It may also show if a wearer's medicines are working correctly. The cardiac monitor can tell if someone's heart is getting enough oxygen, and can also show if a pacemaker is working. If a patient is required to use a cardiac monitor, a technician should show the wearer how to attach it beforehand. A patient may be required to use the monitor for just a few days or up to a month. Once medical professionals have evidence of several recordings, they can decide if further tests or treatment are required.