Insertable Cardiac Monitor
If it is suspected that your fainting is due to a heart-related issue, your doctor may conduct additional heart monitoring tests to evaluate and uncover the cause. An insertable cardiac monitor (ICM), which is a small device used to record your heart’s activity for months at a time, can help your doctor determine if your fainting episodes are caused by an irregular heartbeat.
How does an ICM work?
An ICM is a thin device that is implanted just beneath the skin in the chest area. The ICM is pre-programmed to continuously monitor your heart’s activity. When a fainting spell occurs, you or your caregiver should quickly place a small hand-held activator over the ICM to activate the device to record your heart beat throughout the fainting episode. Following the fainting episode you will go to the hospital for the results to be downloaded. Some ICM’s can also be pre-programmed to record irregular heart rhythms automatically, which means you can send any stored information to your doctor via a phone line from your own home without having to go to the hospital. If the ICM identifies a heart rhythm issue, your doctor can then recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
How do I know if an ICM is right for me?
If any of the following symptoms relate to you, speak to your doctor about being referred to a heart specialist who can then determine if you need an ICM:
• Multiple fainting episodes with no known cause
• Infrequent, unpredictable fainting episodes
• Heart palpitations or other heart issues that occur before or after a fainting episode
• A family history of undiagnosed fainting or sudden cardiac arrest
• Undergone numerous diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your fainting, but still have no answer
• Current treatment for your fainting is not helping
How is the ICM fitted?
An ICM is a thin device which is inserted just beneath the skin in the chest area. The implant procedure is simple and is conducted in an outpatient clinic and will take between 15-20 minutes. A local anesthetic is used to numb a small area of your skin. Once the device has been positioned under the skin the wound can be stitched.
A small dressing will be applied and you will be advised when to remove it. You may be given antibiotics to minimize infection. The wound should be kept clean and dry until it is fully healed, although it is safe to bathe and shower.
How long can an ICM stay implanted in a person?
An ICM is designed for long-term use and works to observe the heart’s activity non-stop. The ICM can stay implanted for up to 3 years to ensure that your heart rhythm is obtained during infrequent fainting spells.
When can an ICM be removed?
Once your heart’s activity has been recorded during your fainting episodes and the doctor is satisfied that any heart-related causes are identified or ruled out, the device will be removed.
The process to remove the ICM is similar to when it was implanted and can be carried out in an outpatient clinic.