An implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a small heart-monitoring device, inserted just beneath the skin of the chest that records your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years. It records the electrical signals of your heart and allows remote monitoring. An implantable loop recorder can help answer questions about your heart that other heart-monitoring devices cannot provide. It allows for long-term heart rhythm monitoring and can capture information that a standard electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), Holter monitor or even event monitors miss because some heart rhythm abnormalities occur infrequently.
Normally, a special group of cells begin the electrical signal to start your heartbeat. These cells are in the sinoatrial (SA) node. This node is in the right atrium, the upper right chamber of your heart. The signal quickly travels down your heart’s conduction system to the ventricles. These are the 2 lower chambers of your heart. As it travels, the signal triggers nearby parts of your heart to contract. This helps your heart pump blood in a coordinated way. Any disruptions to this signaling pathway may result in heart rhythm problems. These might cause a number of problems, such as fainting and palpitations. An abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) may make your heart unable to pump as much blood as needed. The temporarily reduced blood to your brain is what causes you to faint. When the rhythm returns to normal, you normally regain consciousness.
Each heart rhythm problem may need its own treatment. It’s important to find out what kind of problem you may have, if any. An implantable loop recorder continuously records information about your electrical activity, similar to an ECG. However, an implantable loop recorder can record heart rhythm for up to 3 years. It is continuously looping its memory and has automatic triggers to store recordings. It can also be patient activated to store recordings as well. If you fainted due to an arrhythmia, the machine records this information before, during, and after the fainting. You will need to undergo a minor surgical procedure to place the implantable loop recorder. Risks of the procedure include infection or bleeding around the device.