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How does a heart monitor work?

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Quick Answer

A heart monitor works by recording the electrical impulses of the heart for 24 to 48 hours, according to MedlinePlus. Electrodes stick to the patient's chest, and then wires go from the electrodes to the monitor. The patient carries the monitor in a pocket or pouch worn around the neck or waist.

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Full Answer

When wearing a heart monitor, it is important that a patient keeps a diary of activities, states MedlinePlus. After 24 to 48 hours, the patient returns the monitor to the doctor's office. The doctor looks at the records and determines if there are any abnormal rhythms. The doctor takes the information from the monitor and compares this information with the patient's activity diary.

Wearing the monitor is painless, but there are things a patient must keep in mind when wearing the device, explains MedlinePlus. For instance, the patient must firmly attach the electrodes to the chest to get the most accurate reading. The patient must also avoid high-voltage areas, electric blankets, bathing, metal detectors and magnets when wearing the monitor. The patient should also continue normal activities when wearing the monitor, and the doctor may ask a patient to exercise when wearing the monitor, especially if the patient has a history of heart issues while exercising.

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