Mobile Cardiac Telemetry: A Brief Summary

Mobile Cardiac Telemetry: A Brief Summary For Patients

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This article will provide you with a brief explanation of what mobile cardiac telemetry (MCT) is. I will explain how MCT relates to heart disease, who may benefit from it and what MCT entails. I hope you find the following information educational and informative. And if you know of someone who may benefit from reading it, I encourage you to pass it along.

What is Mobile Cardiac Telemetry?

First, let’s define telemetry. Telemetry is a way of monitoring your heart. If you have ever been admitted to the hospital and hooked up to telemetry, you might feel like you have wires all over your body. In reality, sticky pads, called electrodes, with wires are placed in a few specific areas around your chest and torso area. The electrodes with wires are then connected to a small monitor.

Mobile cardiac telemetry is a type of telemetry that is done outside a hospital setting. It is used as a diagnostic test. MCT can monitor your heart rhythms as you run errands, exercise, and sleep.

electrodes and telemetry monitoring picture.
Illustration of one type of telemetry set-up

Telemetry is used to watch your pattern of heartbeats and find any heart problems you may have. It also allows doctors to see how well your medications are working to manage your heart condition.

You are responsible for attaching electrodes to your body throughout your MCT period. Likewise, you are responsible for using and caring for your monitor while it is in your possession.

Each electrode is about the size of a silver dollar. And the monitor is about the size of a deck of cards. MCT as well as other outpatient monitors are noninvasive and painless.

Other Types of Cardiac Monitoring

There are other types of outpatient heart monitors your doctor may also suggest depending on your condition. The following are some other options for outpatient cardiac monitoring.

Holter Monitors

Holter monitors are devices that record ALL heart activity. Similar to MCT, they also involve sticky pads and electrodes that attach to specific areas of your body.

Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose symptoms if they only occur once in a while or under certain conditions. So you may need to wear a Holter monitor for 24 to 48 hours. This longer period of monitoring your heartbeat is more likely to capture any symptoms than an ECG that only runs for a few minutes.

Some Holter monitors may record continuously but also have an event monitor feature that you activate when symptoms begin to occur.

Event Monitors

The purpose of an event monitor is to monitor your heart rhythm during the times your symptoms occur. You, the user, activate the recording usually by pushing a button on your device as soon as symptoms start.

Therefore, unlike the Holter monitor which records continuously throughout the time you wear it, event monitors only record cardiac events. This could include any abnormal symptoms, including chest pain, dizziness or palpitations.

Some event monitors have wires. Others are wireless and can connect to your smart phone.

With both Holter and event monitors, you will likely keep a diary of your symptoms and corresponding activities. This will give your doctor more information about what caused the cardiac event.

Who Needs Mobile Cardiac Telemetry?

The list below includes any conditions an individual may have that may indicate the need for Mobile Cardiac Telemetry:

  • Palpitations or undiscovered arrhythmias.
  • Any symptoms that may indicate cardiac abnormalities or arrhythmias: transient chest pain (angina), shortness of breath (dyspnea) signs of dizziness (syncope).
  • Evidence of bradycardia arrhythmias.
  • Bundle branch block or other transient non-life threatening conduction disorders.
  • Post cardiac surgery and/or myocardial infarction.
  • Prescription drug monitoring to control atrial fibrillation.
  • Those recovering from cardiac surgery who need outpatient arrhythmia monitoring.
  • Patients with diagnosed sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnea) to evaluate arrhythmia behavior.
  • Individuals requiring arrhythmia evaluation due to stroke or transient cerebral ischemia and / or stroke from atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
  • Patients who require 24-hour monitoring for non-life threatening arrhythmias such as supraventricular tachycardia (pre-mature atrial contractions, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, pre-mature ventricular contractions, ventricular tachycardia)

Mobile Cardiac Telemetry should NOT be used if you have life-threatening arrhythmias. In this situation, you should use in-patient monitoring or hospitalization.

How Does Mobile Cardiac Telemetry Work?

Once you receive the device and set it up, it is attached to your chest. You should shower or bathe the day you receive your device to ensure the area is clean. Or you may use alcohol to clean the skin where the monitor will be placed. You may also want to shave or remove any hair you might have in that area, ensuring that the electrode can stay attached and get a clear signal.

Mobile Cardiac Telemetry picture
Illustration of a Mobile Cardiac Telemetry unit

After attaching the MCT, it begins recording you heartbeat. Unlike other monitors that record ALL heart activity, MCT devices only record abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias. Each abnormal cardiac rhythm transmits to a remote location where cardiac technicians monitor them and may contact your physician if needed.

The trained and certified cardiac technicians review your heart data and watch for unusual activity 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. You can wear your monitor for up to 30 days.

Once your MCT period ends, they will send a clinical report to your doctor.

Benefits of Use

MCT monitoring is superior to other forms of Ambulatory Cardiac Monitoring (Holter or Event Monitoring) because it transmits data to doctors automatically. You don’t need to do anything. This is a benefit because it takes this step out of your hands, eliminating the hurdle of having to document or relay information to the doctor yourself.

Likewise, medical professionals can interact with you, their patient, in real time, optimizing patient care almost instantly. Relaying health information in real time is better than getting it days or weeks later.

Several studies compare Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT) to traditional 30 Day Cardiac Event Monitors. The results prove that MCT is arguably superior in detecting significant cardiac arrhythmias. It is also successful in confirming diagnoses of conditions, whether the patient felt the symptom or not.

The future for this technology is bright as it progresses to expedite & improve the quality of clinical diagnosis.

Precautions and Warnings

Since these are medical devices, they do take some initial technical set up. The device usually comes with a sensor and a monitor. Some people may need help setting it up or attaching it to the correct area of the body. Each device should come with special instructions for set-up and use. You must read these instructions thoroughly and carefully so you can avoid any user errors.

You must also remember that these devices are water-resistant, not waterproof. Therefore, showering may be difficult. Try to face away from the direction of the showerhead so that you avoid spraying water directly onto the telemetry device.

Another precautionary measure is to avoid electromagnetic interference. For example, you must avoid being too close to heavy equipment, electric blankets, heating pads, water beds, etc.

It is also best to sleep on your back or side while wearing the MCT device. This is because lying or sleeping directly on the sensor may damage the device.

Conclusion

The use of Mobile Cardiac Telemetry is very promising. It is a wonderful way to further diagnose abnormal heart rhythms that regular ECG’s may not be able to.

Benefits of MCT are that it is both painless and don’t involve any surgical interventions. And it is also convenient in that the user does not have to record anything or contact their doctor. This is the job of trained medical personnel who do this for you. In addition, they are able to document events even if users don’t realize they are happening.

Tell your doctor if you have any conditions indicating a need for MCT in order to prevent serious heart issues. Of course, be aware of any precautions and ask any questions you may have prior to starting.

For more information on how to prevent cardiac disease, stroke and heart attack, read ”5 Things You Can Do to Support Heart Health NOW!

References

  1. Center for Advanced Cardiac & Vascular Interventions. Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT). Accessed March 3, 2022. Available at: https://cacvi.org/services/diagnostic-procedures/mobile-cardiac-telemetry/
  2. Stanford Health Care. Holter Monitor. Accessed March 7, 2022. Available at: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-tests/h/holter-monitor.html

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