If you’ve recently had a heart monitor placed, you may be wondering how you can safely shower without damaging the device. Showering with a heart monitor in place requires some special care and precautions but is definitely possible. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about showering with your heart monitor so you can keep up with your regular hygiene while following doctor’s orders.
What is a Heart Monitor?
A heart monitor, also called a cardiac monitor, is a small wearable device that keeps track of your heart rhythm and rate. The monitor records your heart’s electrical activity over a period of time.
- What is a Heart Monitor?
- Why Do You Need to Wear a Heart Monitor?
- Types of Heart Monitors
- Preparing for Your Shower
- Protecting the Monitor During Your Shower
- Showering Steps
- Drying Off and Aftercare
- Troubleshooting Issues
- Special Considerations
There are a few different kinds of heart monitors:
Why Do You Need to Wear a Heart Monitor?
Your doctor may prescribe a heart monitor if they suspect you have an arrhythmia – an abnormal heartbeat. Some common reasons for needing a monitor include:
- Palpitations or fluttering in the chest
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Risk factors for arrhythmias like heart disease
- Recovering from a heart procedure
The monitor helps your doctor diagnose the cause of any unusual symptoms by providing them with a detailed record of your heart rate and rhythm as you go about normal daily activities.
Types of Heart Monitors
There are a few different types of portable heart monitors. The kind you wear during showering depends on why it was prescribed.
A Holter monitor is worn for 24 to 72 hours at a time. It’s a small, wearable device that connects to several adhesive electrode patches on your chest. Holter monitors are lightweight and portable so you can wear them while showering.
An event monitor is worn for 1 to 4 weeks. You activate it when you notice symptoms to record heart activity. It’s important to protect event monitors from getting wet as the adhesive can fail.
Implantable Loop Recorder
An implantable loop recorder is a small device inserted under the skin in your chest to monitor your heart for up to 3 years. You can shower normally with this type as it’s protected inside your body. The external reader shouldn’t get wet though.
Preparing for Your Shower
Before hopping in the shower, there are a few things you should do to prep. This will help prevent any issues with the monitor while bathing.
Check the Monitor’s Water Resistance
Most heart monitors are splash proof or water resistant, not waterproof. Check with your doctor to see if your monitor can get wet at all and whether you’ll need to cover it.
Have Someone Else Present
In case you feel dizzy or faint, it’s a good idea to shower with someone nearby who can help if needed.
You may need certain supplies on hand for showering with your monitor such as plastic wrap, a towel, tape, etc. Have those ready by the shower.
Protecting the Monitor During Your Shower
When bathing with a heart monitor, you’ll need to take steps to keep the device protected. Here are some key tips:
Covering the Monitor
If your monitor can’t get wet, cover it with plastic wrap secured with tape. Make sure no water can seep in around the edges. Place a towel around it for extra protection if needed.
Keeping the Monitor Dry
If simply splashing your monitor is okay, turn it inward and place a towel over it to absorb any water droplets. Or wear a tight shirt over it to keep it dry.
Avoiding Direct Water Contact
No matter what kind of heart monitor you have, avoid standing directly under the shower stream or submerging it in water. The force of direct water contact can damage it.
Follow these tips for showering itself to keep your monitor safe:
Keep the Monitor Above Heart Level
Make sure the monitor stays positioned above your heart as you bathe. This utilizes gravity to keep it dry.
Wash Gently Around the Monitor
Use your hands instead of a loofah or washcloth around the monitor area. Gently cleanse skin under any loose electrodes.
Rinse and Dry Thoroughly
After washing up, let water run down your body instead of rubbing it dry around the monitor site. Pat dry with a towel.
Reapply Adhesive Pads
If the electrodes got wet or peeled up, carefully remove the monitor and reapply fresh electrode pads after showering.
Drying Off and Aftercare
Once your shower is done, be sure to follow these aftercare tips:
Pat Dry Around the Monitor
Gently pat your skin dry around the monitor with a towel. Don’t vigorously rub the area.
Avoid Lotions or Powders
Skip moisturizers, powders or deodorants near the monitor site which can loosen the adhesive.
Check for Damage
Examine the monitor and electrodes after bathing to ensure everything stayed intact. Report any issues to your doctor.
If you accidentally get the monitor wet or encounter other problems, here’s how to address them:
Monitor Got Wet
If it’s not waterproof, dry it off immediately with a towel without rubbing. Remove batteries and leave it open to air dry. Call your doctor about potential damage.
Monitor Fell Off
If the monitor detaches, press it back in place firmly. If the electrodes won’t stick, replace them. Note the time it fell off and any symptoms.
Soap residue or wet electrodes can temporarily cause skipped or false heartbeats. Try cleaning skin with alcohol pads and reapplying electrodes.
Certain factors require extra caution when showering with a monitor:
Swimming and Baths
Avoid swimming, hot tubs, and baths which can fully submerge and damage your monitor.
Kids must have close adult supervision to keep monitors protected around water.
Use waterproof tape to secure electrodes through chest hair. Trim hair around sites if needed.
Showering with a heart monitor just requires some extra planning and gentle care. With the right precautions, you can keep your monitor protected and clean during bathing. Be sure to discuss showering procedures with your doctor so you feel confident keeping it dry. Following these tips, you’ll maintain your heart monitoring without interruptions.
Can I wear my heart monitor in the pool or hot tub?
No, you should avoid swimming or soaking in hot water as it can damage the monitor. Discuss exercise restrictions with your doctor.
How do I keep a monitor on my hairy chest from peeling off?
Trim any thick chest hair around the electrode site. Use additional adhesive tape over the monitor and change electrodes daily.
What if my Holter monitor stops working after getting wet in the shower?
Turn it off and remove the battery pack. Dry it out for 24-48 hours and call your provider to see if it needs replacement due to water damage.
Can I shower with my implantable loop recorder?
Yes, you can shower normally with an implantable loop recorder as the device is protected under your skin. Just avoid submerging the external reader.
How soon after a shower can I reapply lotion near my heart monitor?
Wait at least 15-20 minutes after bathing to apply moisturizers, powders or deodorants. This allows your skin to fully dry first so