Patients suffering from unexplained fainting spells (syncope) can now be diagnosed faster and less invasively through the insertion of a new, significantly smaller, heart monitor, says board-certified cardiologist Arsalan Shahzad, MD at St. Luke’s Hospital at The Vintage in Northwest Houston. The new Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ heart monitor is implanted on an outpatient basis and is used to detect abnormal heart rhythms in patients suffering from syncope.
“Syncope is not an entirely uncommon condition. While many instances of syncope may be relatively harmless, such as in cases of exhaustion or standing up too fast, other episodes may be potentially dangerous or life-threatening,” says Dr. Shahzad. “Abnormal heart rhythms have been shown to cause syncope in some patients and if left untreated, can be life-threatening.”
In the past, doctors have used holter and event monitors to aid in the diagnosis of potential heart conditions. However, these monitors involved patients attaching sticky electrodes to their bodies for days or weeks at a time, and some of these monitors were manual, meaning that patients had to press a button to record when they felt an abnormal change in heart rhythm. Of course this was rendered useless while patients were sleeping, and this system of monitoring was often uncomfortable for patients.
A fairly recent innovation, however, is the use of insertable heart monitors, which automatically detect and record abnormal heart rhythms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While the Reveal LINQ monitor is not the first of these, it’s perhaps the most innovative to date. Previous versions of insertable heart monitors exist, such as the Reveal XT, yet the Reveal LINQ monitor is significantly smaller, thinner, more discrete, and automatically records heart rhythms for up to three years. In most cases, the monitor is not visible at all after the procedure is complete.
The procedure for insertion of the Reveal LINQ monitor is surprisingly simple. The monitor is placed under the skin on the chest. After numbing the area with local anesthesia, an incision is made and the monitor is inserted. While the procedure carries some slight risk of infection or general discomfort, serious risks are very rare.
“We’re excited to implement this new product in our procedures,” said Dr. Shahzad. “Our hope is that we will enhance our ability to quickly diagnose and treat patients with syncope before they injure themselves.”