The Utility of Ambulatory Electrocardiographic Monitoring for Detecting Silent Arrhythmias and Clarifying Symptom Mechanism in an Urban Elderly Population with Heart Failure and Hypertension: Clinical Implications.

BACKGROUND: Atrial and ventriclar tachyarrhythmias, as well as bradyarrhythmias, in the elderly with heart failure (HF) and/or hypertension (HTN) have been well documented. However, the frequency of these arrhythmias, whether silent or symptomatic, and their association with subsequent cardiac events has not been well defined in patients 65 years or older with HF and other cardiovascular risk factors.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the value of 2 weeks of remote, transtelephonic cardiac monitoring for detecting arrhythmias in an elderly, urban population living with HF.
METHODS: Fifty-four patients with a history of systolic HF and/or HTN were consented and enrolled. All wore an auto triggered cardiac loop monitor for 2 weeks that captures EKG data and both silent and symptomatic arrhythmias were recorded.
RESULTS: Mean age was 73 +/- 6 years with 59% of subjects were females, 74% Hispanic, 22% black, and 4% white/other. All patients had HF and 94% had HTN. From the cardiac monitoring, 72% demonstrated ectopic atrial and ventricular activity, and 1 paroxysmal episode of atrial fibrillation was documented. In addition, 3 subjects had significant non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, and 4 individuals had severe bradycardia recorded on cardiac monitoring. These 7 individuals underwent placement of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker based on the documented arrhythmias which may have otherwise gone undetected.
CONCLUSION: A substantial proportion of patients exhibited cardiac arrhythmias. Future morbidity was prevented because of the detection of arrhythmias on monitoring that led to specific therapies such as pacemaker or ICD implantation which otherwise may not have been implemented.