Healthwise: New Heart Monitoring Devices

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

February 17, 2010

Users on old land line phones are limited by being wired in place. Today, there's the cell phone, which is wireless and mobile. An analogous upgrade has recently taken effect for heart monitoring devices used by cardiologists at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Doctor Tim Williams uses the new technology to diagnose patients.

"I've seen patients for low heart rates or symptoms of a low heart rate, which will include light headed or passing out, alternatively fast heart rates can present a similar manner, either light headed or a racing of the pulse," said Dr. Williams.

Prior to the upgrade, a system called a "Holter Monitor" gave doctors a picture of a patient's heart. Just like the old desk phone, the Holter system was limited in what it could do. Wires had to be applied to patients and a limited amount of information could be transferred.

"It's a closed system, meaning we don't know what's on that monitor or tracing until you turn it in," said Dr. Williams.

Contrarily, the new technology is not so limited. Data transmits instantly to the monitoring doctor and no effort is required of the patient.

"Based on what we find on these monitors, we are able to find what is happening quicker and kind of hone in on the problem," said Dr. Williams.

The new remote heart monitoring device looks very similar to a cell phone and shares some features with the modern mobile device, including wireless mobility and bluetooth technology.

"The patient has a real time alert. If they have a dangerous situation, we can call them," said Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams believes these new technologies provide more efficient care and allow for quicker answers for patients and doctors alike. At the end of the day, the new system will allow cardiologists to dial into the patient's vital organ and listen for urgent messages from the heart.

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