A Holter monitor is a device that continuously records the heart rate during daily activities, usually over a period of 24 hours. It is also called “ambulatory electrocardiogram”, being identical to the classic one, with the only difference that the device is not fixed as in the cardiology office, but is mobile – carry it with you.
The Holter monitor records the heart rate by means of electrodes placed on the chest. Electrodes are small sensors with adhesive film connected by wires to a monitor.
Holter ECG monitoring helps you find out how your heart responds to normal activity or the use of certain medications.
Why is Holter ECG monitoring done?
There are many reasons why your doctor may request this test:
• to help detect irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias)
• to help assess chest pain
• to help check the activity of the heart after a heart attack
• to help check heart activity after a pacemaker has been inserted
• to help check the effect of using certain medicines
• to help discover the causes of certain symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion or fainting
When is Holter monitoring indicated?
A regular EKG can diagnose heart rate and frequency, as well as other abnormalities that can affect normal heart function. However, most of the time, heart symptoms occur at home, at work, or in other circumstances where you cannot get an EKG immediately. You may have experienced heart rhythm irregularities, palpitations, chest pain, heart breaks that do not occur at the time of the EKG because you are connected to the device for a very short time. Monitoring for a longer period of time is required to record these events.
How does it work?
The Holter monitor is as small as half a pack of playing cards. Several cables are attached to the monitor, which are connected using electrodes placed on the skin of your chest.
Your doctor will show you how to reattach the electrodes if they come off during the monitoring period.
You will receive instructions on how to take care of your monitor and what to do while wearing it. It is important to avoid bathing, showering and swimming while wearing the monitor.
You are encouraged to participate in your normal activities during Holter monitoring.
Wearing a Holter monitor does not involve any risks.
While wearing the Holter monitor, continue to do normal activities. You will be asked to keep a journal in which you write down your activities, the medications used, and the symptoms that occurred while wearing the monitor.
It is important to keep the monitor dry.
• Do not shower or bathe until the monitor is removed
• You may wipe with a sponge, but be careful not to wet the monitor
Do not disconnect wires or electrodes. This will interrupt the recording.
Record all events in the diary – it is very important to complete in a diary every activity done and when it happens. Some examples of activities are:
• climbing stairs
• physical exercises
• sexual activity
You must also include:
• eating and drinking
• medicines taken
• periods of stress
Write down any symptoms you have and when you have them. The following symptoms are important to record:
• chest pain or discomfort
• any other pain
• difficulty breathing
• dizziness or confusion
• heart palpitations (acceleration or discontinuities of the heartbeat)
What to avoid?
Certain things can interfere with the recording of the Holter monitor leading to alteration of the final result. While wearing the Holter monitor, avoid the following:
– proximity to magnets
– metal detectors
After the recommended monitoring period, you will return to our clinic to remove the device. The doctor will read the monitor record. Depending on the test results, you may be advised to perform additional tests before a definitive diagnosis can be made.