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What Is Cardiac Monitor? All You Need To Know About Cardiac Monitoring

What Is Cardiac Monitor?

Cardiac monitoring generally refers to continuous or intermittent monitoring of heart activity to assess a patient’s condition relative to their cardiac rhythm. Cardiac monitoring is usually carried out using electrocardiography, which is a noninvasive process that records the heart’s electrical activity and displays it in an electrocardiogram.

It is different from hemodynamic monitoring, which monitors the pressure and flow of blood within the cardiovascular system. The two may be performed simultaneously on critical heart patients. Cardiac monitoring for ambulatory patients (those well enough to walk around) is known as ambulatory electrocardiography and uses a small, wearable device, such as a Holter monitor, wireless ambulatory ECG, or an implantable loop recorder. Data from a cardiac monitor can be transmitted to a distant monitoring station in a process known as telemetry or biotelemetry.

Cardiac Monitor Uses

The cardiac monitor continuously displays the cardiac electrocardiogram (EKG) tracing. Additional monitoring components allow cardiovascular pressures and cardiac output to be monitored and displayed as required for patient diagnosis and treatment. Oxygen saturation of the arterial blood can also be monitored continuously. Most commonly used in emergency rooms and critical care areas, bedside monitors can be interconnected to allow for continual observation of several patients from a central display. Continuous cardiovascular and pulmonary monitoring allows for prompt identification and initiation of treatment.

Preparations

As the cardiac monitor is most commonly used to monitor electrical activity of the heart, the patient can expect the following preparations. The sites selected for electrode placement on the skin will be shaved and cleaned causing surface abrasion for better contact between the skin and electrode. The electrode will have a layer of gel protected by a film, which is removed prior to placing the electrode on the skin. Electrode patches will be placed near or on the right arm, right leg, left arm, left leg, and the center-left side of the chest. The cable will be connected to the electrode patches for the measurement of a five-lead electrocardiogram.

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Additional configurations are referred to as three-lead and 12-lead electrocardiograms. If noninvasive blood pressure is being measured, a blood pressure cuff will be placed around the patient’s arm or leg. The blood pressure cuff will be set to inflate manually or automatically. If manual inflation is chosen, the cuff will only inflate at the prompting of the health care provider, after which blood pressure will be displayed. During automatic operation, the blood pressure cuff will inflate at timed intervals and the display will update at the end of each measurement.

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