Arnprior Regional Health expands real time heart monitor program

ARNPRIOR – Arnprior Regional Health (ARH) has expanded technology available to meet the growing need to monitor more patients’ heart irregularities in real time.

Real time monitoring best ensures issues are captured instantly and patients get the right care and treatment to prevent a heart event from happening.

As a best practice, ARH provides patients with cardiac holter monitors they wear over a three to 14-day monitoring period in order to detect hard-to-catch irregularities that weren’t captured during their time at the hospital. ARH uses the real-time monitors instead of the traditional models, which required patients to bring the unit in for their results to be processed and interpreted – taking up to three weeks.

“It gives everyone involved peace of mind, provides an option to discharge a patient home safely, helping to shorten length of stay in hospital in some instances,” ARH Diagnostic Imaging manager Vicki Hallas said. “This technology helps our team prevent cardiac events.”

Laurie Jack, a local Arnprior resident in her 50s, benefited from the real time cardiac holter monitor in summer 2018. After experiencing her heart racing numerous times, she had a stress test and echocardiogram at ARH that didn’t determine what was wrong. Her physician gave her the monitor to wear over the next week in order to pick up the irregularity. As soon as the monitor captured Laurie’s heart issue, she was notified by the call centre and met with her ARH physician who explained she had atrial fibrillation and was prescribed medication.

“It was nice to know that if I experienced any problems with my heart, the monitor would pick it up and I wouldn’t be alone,” Jack said. “Because of the monitor, we knew right away what the issue was without a long wait time.”

With the growing demand for the 14-day monitor, ARH has added new units to ensure patients have immediate access. Since the real-time monitors were introduced in 2018, they have been used by patients approximately 880 times. Patients may be given a monitor through the Emergency Department, outpatient clinics, or the inpatient unit upon discharge if they report experiencing palpitations, extreme fatigue, or dizziness, for example, and the issue has not been detected through diagnostics.

The real-time monitors are covered by OHIP, managed through the Ottawa Cardiovascular Centre and include 24/7 customer support for the patient.  When a heart irregularity is picked up by the monitor, the patient receives a call with instructions about their next steps i.e. go to nearest hospital, call an ambulance.

“They’re amazing, you can’t get better than real-time,” electrocardiography technician Trish Headrick. “You don’t have to worry about patients because they’re closely monitored, and you know they’ll be well supported and cared for if needed.”