What is a holter monitor?
The Holter monitor is a small, battery-powered medical device that measures your heart’s activity, such as rate and rhythm. Your doctor may ask you to use one if they need more information about how your heart is working than a routine electrocardiogram (EKG) can provide.
A 24-hour Holter monitor is a continuous test to record your heart rate and rhythm for 24 hours. You wear a Holter monitor for 12 to 48 hours while going about your regular daily routine. This device has electrodes and electrical wires just like a regular EKG, but it has fewer leads. It can detect not only your heart rate and rhythm but also when you feel chest pain or symptoms of an irregular heartbeat or an irregular heartbeat.
The Holter monitor test is sometimes called a mobile ECG. There are different kinds of gadgets that can be utilized to gauge heart movement for longer time frames.
Why holter monitor?
In the event that you have signs or manifestations of a heart issue, for example, an unpredictable heartbeat (arrhythmia) or unexplained blacking out, your PCP may arrange a test called an electrocardiogram. An EKG is a short, non-invasive test that uses electrodes attached to your chest to check your heart’s rhythm.
However, sometimes, the EKG doesn’t detect any abnormalities in your heart rhythm because you are only connected to the device for a short time. If your signs and symptoms indicate that an irregular heartbeat may be causing your condition, your doctor may recommend that you wear a Holter monitor for a day or so. Over this time, the Holter monitor may be able to detect an irregularity in your heart rhythm that the EKG cannot detect.
Your doctor may also order a Holter monitor if you have a heart condition that increases your risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm. Your doctor may suggest wearing a Holter monitor for a day or two, even if you don’t have any symptoms of an abnormal heartbeat.
How would I prepare for a holter monitor?
- Your health care provider will explain the procedure and you can ask questions.
- You do not need to fast (neither eat nor drink).
- Depending on your medical condition, your healthcare provider may require another specific preparation.
What happens during a holter monitor?
Holter monitor is generally recorded on an outpatient basis. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and the practice of your healthcare provider.
In general, Holter screen recording follows this process:
- You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other items that may interfere with the reading.
- You will be asked to undress from the waist up so that the electrodes can be attached to your chest. The technician will ensure your privacy by covering you with a sheet or gown and only exposing the necessary skin.
- The areas where the electrode stains are placed are cleaned, and in some cases, the hair may be shaved or trimmed so that the electrodes are closely attached to the skin.
- Electrodes will be attached to your chest and abdomen. The Holter monitor will be connected to the electrodes by wires. The small screen box may be worn over your shoulder like a shoulder bag or around your waist or it may be attached to a belt or pocket.
- Find out if you will have to change the batteries in the display. Make sure you know how to do this and that you have extra batteries on hand.
- Once you are connected to the monitor and given instructions, you can return to your usual activities, such as work, housework, and exercise, unless your health care provider tells you otherwise. This will allow your healthcare provider to identify issues that may only occur with certain activities.
- You will be asked to keep a diary of your activities while wearing the screen. Write down the date and time of your activities, especially if any symptoms, such as dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pain, or other previously encountered symptoms, occurred.
After the procedure
Once your observation period is over, you will return the device to your doctor’s office, along with the notes you kept while wearing a Holter monitor. Your doctor will compare data from the recorder and the activities and symptoms you noted.
What are the risks of a Holter monitor?
The Holter monitor is an easy way to assess heart function. The risks associated with a Holter monitor are rare. It can be difficult to keep the electrodes attached to your skin, and you may need extra tape. It can be uncomfortable when removing sticky electrodes and tape. If the electrodes are run for a long time, they may cause tissue breakdown or skin irritation at the application site. There might be different dangers relying upon your particular ailment. Make certain to talk about any worries with your medical care supplier before wearing the screen.
Certain factors or circumstances may interfere or affect the results of a Holter monitor. These include, but are not limited to:
- Near magnets, metal detectors, high-voltage electrical wires, and electrical appliances such as razors, toothbrushes, and microwave ovens. Cell phones and MP3 players can also interfere with signals and they should be at least 6 inches away from the display box.
- Smoking or using other forms of tobacco
- Certain medications
- Excessive sweating, which may cause the strings to loosen or fall off
Understanding the results
After the test period, the person returns to their doctor to have the screen removed. Provide any notes for the doctor to review and the doctor will consider screen readings and the person’s notes when making a diagnosis.
Holter monitor readings may reveal an underlying heart condition, new symptoms, and potential triggers. It may also help show the problems caused by medications. A person may have to wait for one to two weeks for the test results.