Loop recorders

What are loop recorders?

Loop recorders are devices designed to record episodes of heart arrhythmia while you are going about your normal life. They are similar in function to Holter monitors but are designed to be implanted under the skin.

How do loop recorders work?

As the word 'loop' suggests, they are triggered to record by abnormal heartbeats.

They can also be set to either automatically start recording when the heart rate goes above or below certain pre-set levels, and they can also be activated by the wearer using a small device called a 'patient activator' (a little like a TV remote control).

The doctor is then able to download and analyse the recording later.

When are loop recorders used?

Loop recording devices help your doctor to determine whether any symptoms you are experiencing are related to a heart condition. The types of symptoms where a loop recorder can help in diagnosis include...

  • Blackouts or fainting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Strokes of unknown cause

How long do loop recorders need to be 'worn'?

Generally loop recorders only need to be in place for a few weeks, although they can be worn for up to three years if necessary. The main aim is to catch symptoms that occur only from time to time.

What is involved in fitting an implantable device?

A modern loop recording device is around the same size as a small USB stick and is injected on the left side of the chest under the skin. It is a quick procedure and requires only a local anaesthetic. You should avoid eating or drinking for 6 hours before the procedure.