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The Loop Recorder

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Many people have occasional irregular heartbeats which are commonly referred to as arrhythmias.   Whether these arrhythmias are important or not depends on four main criteria:

i)             The type of arrhythmia.

ii)            The frequency of their occurrence.

iii)           How long they last.

iv)           Whether they occur at the same time you have symptoms.


Because arrhythmias often occur sporadically, it is likely difficult to record an arrhythmia at the exact moment you are in a doctor’s office or hospital.   It is for this reason why many cardiologists recommend a cardiac event loop recorder to detect transient arrhythmias because a loop recorder can be used for a longer time than a continuous recorder.   The information collected can often be sent over the phone to a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.

“In my practice, I have patients whose symptoms remained unexplained despite lengthy, inconvenient, costly and even risky studies until trans-telephonic arrhythmia detection established a diagnosis.   Diagnosis established by this method range from minor to life threatening cardiac arrhythmias and conduction disorders.   My experience in this regard is by no means unique.  The trans-telephonic method is usually superior for the prompt detection of relevant information.”

Stanley J. Schneller, MD,
Director, Pacemaker laboratory,
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centre,
New York , New York

Braemar ER920 Loop Event Recorder

  • Irregular Heart Beat (Atrial fibrillation)
  • Irregular Heart Beat (Atrial flutter)
  • Dizziness
  • Chest Pain
  • Light-headedness
  • Loss of consciousness (pre-syncope, syncope)
  • Fast heartbeat (Palpitations)
  • Fast heartbeat (Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia)
  • Fast heartbeat with dizziness (Paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia)
  • Premature / extra heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath, dyspnea



A loop recorder gets its name because the device utilizes looping memory, a process where the device records to memory some electrical heart activity (i.e. electrocardiogram or ECG) and after a preset length of time, erases what it recorded and replaces the old ECG with more recent ECG.   The length of time of the looping memory can be varied from as short as thirty seconds to five minutes or longer.

When one experiences a symptom associated with an arrhythmia, a record button on the monitor is pressed.   When this happens a presymptom recording is stored in memory along with a postsymptom recording.   This is especially useful for people who lose consciousness when their heart problems occur and can press the button only after they wake up.

The ECG data can then be downloaded over a telephone to clear the memory so one can store new events.



A Loop recorder is prescribed for four main reasons:

i)             Record irregular heartbeats that occur intermittently or during certain activities.


ii)            Find out what is causing chest pain, fainting or dizziness.  These are symptoms of possible heart problems.


iii)           Look for poor blood flow to your heart muscle (ischemia).


iv)           Check to see if treatment for an irregular heartbeat is working.


Electrodes will be attached to the chest and one will start the recorder when symptoms of a heart problem are felt.  If passing out occurs, the record button should be pressed the moment consciousness is regained.   Extra electrodes will be supplied to cover the monitoring period, along with a diary, and extra batteries.


Sometimes with patients with sensitive skin, the electrode sites may itch slightly after two weeks of monitoring.   For this reason it is important to move the electrodes slightly every day so the skin won’t get irritated by being exposed to an electrode continuously.   The loop recorder is very lightweight, so carrying it usually is not uncomfortable.


There are no risks from loop recorder monitoring. The electrodes placed on your skin detect only the electrical signals from your heart. No electricity is sent through your body, and there is no possibility of receiving an electric shock.



Results of Loop monitoring usually are interpreted by a cardiologist and are generally available in a few days.


Normal:  No abnormal heart rhythms are found in the EKG information collected by the recorder.

Abnormal: Many kinds of irregular heartbeats can be detected by loop monitoring:

  1.  Abnormal slow or fast heart rhythms are detected. Alternating slow and fast rhythms may also occur occasionally.
  2. A slow heart rhythm in a person with a pacemaker may mean that the pacemaker is not working correctly.
  3. Abnormal patterns may mean that the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen (ischemia) because the arteries feeding the heart are too narrow.
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