An insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) is a small device that continually monitors your heart’s rhythm and detects irregularities. It is placed directly under your skin near the heart. The procedure is quite simple, taking less than 10 minutes. While all ICMs share similar characteristics, there are certainly differences to be aware of if your doctor indicates you may benefit from one.
The benefits of an ICM are in stark contrast to external cardiac monitors, which are attached to the skin with recording pads and wires. These monitors stay in place for anywhere from a day to a month, and often limit what you can do. An ICM, on the other hand, is designed for convenience and consistency.
What can an ICM detect?
Once placed in your body, an ICM makes it possible for your physician to get data about your heart’s performance and identify conditions that may not even be causing noticeable symptoms. An ICM can detect a broad range of heart conditions, with the most common being unexplained syncope (losing consciousness) and cardiac arrhythmia (deviations to your heart’s regular cadence).
With a multitude of detection triggers, an ICM is a powerful way for your physician to gather the essential data to diagnose cardiac conditions. It will also allow your physician to develop a customized action plan to improve your health.
The Importance of Comfort
While the procedure to place an ICM is low-impact, the real question is how comfortable it will be in the long run. Some ICMs lack flexibility, meaning you may feel some discomfort as you go about your day. Other ICMs are designed to be more flexible and will conform to your body. The ICMs that are currently available are small enough to minimize discomfort and allow you to resume most of your previous activities.
In It for the Long Haul?
Another important element of an ICM is its lifespan.Your physician may need many months or monitoring to get the needed data, even a few years, to support a diagnosis or to monitor treatment efforts. Battery life may vary based on the type of device, so ask your doctor how important that is for you.
How Does Data Get to Your Doctor?
Finally, it’s important that your ICM will make it easy for your physician to access cardiac data. All the data tracking in the world won’t do much good if it’s not accessible to the person who needs it most. Make sure the ICM you go with is user-friendly for you and will provide your doctor with information that is as accessible as it is accurate. In this way, you can trust that your ICM is doing everything in its power to assist in your health treatment and recovery.