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What is Cardiac Telemetry?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cardiac telemetry is continuous monitoring of a patient's heart rate and rhythm that takes place at a remote location, classically a nursing station in a special ward. This service is offered to patients recovering from heart events, those who may be at risk of heart events, and individuals experiencing ongoing heart problems. Some hospitals have specialized wards for cardiac telemetry, recognizing how common heart problems are, while others may offer it as part of an array of telemetry services or as part of the standard of care in intensive and critical care units.

In telemetry, data is collected in one location and transmitted to another. In the case of cardiac monitoring, the patient wears electrodes on the chest that are attached to leads and a telemetry transmitter. The transmitter sends signals to a monitoring station, where they can be watched by nurses and cardiologists. Wearing a portable transmitter allows patients to be mobile, as long as the signal stays in range of the monitoring station.

When a patient is admitted to the hospital with heart problems, cardiac telemetry may be recommended as part of the standard of care. Using telemetry, patients can be monitored continuously and unobtrusively by nurses. If a patient develops problems, the monitoring staff can respond quickly, and abnormalities and arrhythmias can also be be noted and brought to the attention of a cardiologist, who can use this information in diagnosis and treatment.

For patients, the process is painless. It can be slightly uncomfortable to wear the electrodes, and patients need to be conscious of the leads, bringing loose connections or leads that have become unplugged to the attention of a nurse. The telemetry can be a valuable diagnostic tool for patients with heart problems, and it can also be important for patient safety, ensuring that heart events are caught quickly. The sooner treatment is offered, the better the prognosis for the patient.

There are a number of options for cardiac telemetry for patients with ongoing conditions. Outpatient telemetry is an option in some hospitals, with patients wearing monitors outside the hospital, and monitoring can also occur as part of a routine standard of care for a variety of conditions, not just heart problems. When telemetry is recommended for a patient, he or she may want to ask how the data will be used, what the implications are, and if he or she will be required to observe any special precautions.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon162825 — On Mar 25, 2011

Cardiac monitoring and cardiac telemetry are synonymous. Cardiac monitoring is performed through the device of telemetry monitors which records the heart rate, and rhythm and sends these results to a monitor where it can been seen by everyone involved with ones' care.

There are different methods of monitoring the heart such as through an Electrocardiogram (EKG), which is not as portable as a telemetry monitor but records the same information.

By anon113922 — On Sep 26, 2010

I was in the hospital, in Michigan, and had two v-fibs, or heart attacks, the cardiologist stated that usually people die from this. They had printed out the events at the time. Now the hospital medical records manager is stating that they do not legally have to keep the telemetry records. Is this true and why?

By pharmchick78 — On Jul 22, 2010

@pleats -- Cardiac monitoring refers to ongoing electrocardiography, which basically consists of monitoring of a patient's cardiac rhythm and how this affects their medical condition.

Cardiac telemetry is the transmission of this data over a distance, from the patient to a monitor, via cardiac telemetry equipment.

The most common type of cardiac telemetry equipment is called a Holter monitor, which is worn by ambulatory patients (often as they do normal, daily activities) to monitor their heart activity.

After a period of time, usually 24 hours, the monitor is removed, and then a physician can analyze the data it collected.

By pleats — On Jul 22, 2010

So what is the difference between cardiac monitoring and cardiac telemetry?

Is one just a type of the other?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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