A new little monitor gets to the heart of it

Heart capturing: Jack James (right) is the first Australian public hospital patient to get a loop monitor. Blacktown Hospital cardiologist Ajita Kanthan (left) did the procedure.Picture: Gary Warrick

Heart capturing: Jack James (right) is the first Australian public hospital patient to get a loop monitor. Blacktown Hospital cardiologist Ajita Kanthan (left) did the procedure.Picture: Gary Warrick

A QUAKERS Hill man was one of the first Australians to be fitted with the world's smallest cardiac monitor last week.

It took a minute for Blacktown Hospital cardiologist Ajita Kanthan to install a loop recorder into Jack James who went home an hour after the procedure and returned to his job as a landscaper the next day.

Loop recorders give hope to more than 400,000 people in Australia who suffer from heart arrhythmia.

They are a third the size of a triple-A battery and have been available in the United States for some time.

The devices monitor irregular heartbeats and send information directly to the patients' doctors for fast and accurate diagnoses and treatments.

"The monitor sits under the skin and is less invasive for patients," Dr Kanthan said.

He has been researching the devices at Blacktown Hospital's Inherited Heart Disorders clinic which opened in December and is planned to become a centre of excellence for cardiac care.

"This clinic is a first for western Sydney. The goal is to provide better electrophysiological technology to western Sydney patients."

Mr James has had recurrent heart palpitations since a heart attack six months ago. "It scared me because I'm only 41 and it came out of the blue," he said.

With one less problem to concern him, Mr James looks forward to marrying his fiance Hine Harrison in July.

"It gives me peace of mind that any problems I do have will be recorded. I was a bit scared before the procedure because of the unknown but now I feel 100 per cent."

Mr James plans to get the monitor replaced when the battery runs flat in about three years time.

"There could be something even smaller by then!"

■ More than 400,000 Australians are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and an estimated further 100,000 Australians live with it undiagnosed.

■ Symptoms of heart-rhythm disorders include irregular pulse, weakness, dizziness, fainting and/or seizures.

■ Without appropriate diagnosis and treatment, the effects of undetected or misdiagnosed heart rhythm disorders can occur without warning and in some cases can be fatal.

■ Anyone who seeks more information about the loop recorder should speak to their GP or cardiologist.

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