A Holter monitor is a small device that keeps trck of your heart hythm. You may wear the monitor for one to two days, and during that time the device records all of you rheartbeats.
A Holter monitor test is usually performed after an electrocardiogram, especially is the electrocardiogram doesn't give enough information to your doctor about your heart's condition.
We will use the information captured by the monitor to understand if you have a rhythm problem. If the standard Holter monitoring doesn't accurately capture the irregular heartbeat rhythm, your doctor might suggest a wireless one, which can work for weeks.
There are no significant risks when wearing a Holter monitor - though, you may experience discmfort or skin irritation where the electrodes are placed.
An important point: the Holter monitor can't get wet or it will be damaged. Don't swim or bathe for the entire time you're wearting the monitor. If you're wearing a wireless monitor, we'll give you instructions on how to disconnect and reconnect the sensors and the monitor so that you can shower or bathe.
Holter monitors are not usually affected by most appliances, but you should try to avoid:
- Metal detectors
- microwave ovens
- electric blankets, and
- electric razors & toothbrushes
These devices can interrupt the signal from the electrodes to the monitor. Also, you should keep you cell phone and/or portable music players at least 6 inches from the Holter monitor for the same reason.
If your provider wants to have you use a Holte rmonitor, it will be done during a scheduled appointment. You should bathe befor ethis appointment (unless told otherwise) because most monitors can't be removed once the testing has begun.
A technician will put electrodes that sense your heartbeat on your chest. They will then connect the electrodes to a recording device with several wires, and will tell you how to correctly wear it so that it can record data sent from the electrodes. The recording part of the monitor is about the size of a deck of cards, or a small book.
Your provider will intruct you to keep a log of all the activities you do while wearing the monitor. It is also important to record any symptoms of palpitations, skipped beats, shortness of breath, chest pain or light-headedness.
Once your monitor is fitted and you've been instructed how to wear it, you can leave the provider's office and go back to your normal activities.
During the Test
The Holter monitoring is painless, and you can hide the electrodes and wires under clothes - you can usually wear the recording device on your belt or attached to a strap. Once the monitoring behings, do not take the monitor off. You must wear it at all times, even when sleeping.
Your provider will tell you how long you'll need to use the Holter monitor - generally it may vary from 24 to 48 hours depending on the suspected heart condition. Remember - you'll also need to write down any symptoms you have whil wearing the monitor in a log so that your provider can compare the data from the monitor with your entries to help diagnose your condition.
You'll return the device to your provider's office, with your symptom/activity log. Your doctor/provider will look at the results and will talk to you about them, to hopefully reveal whether you have a heart condition. There may need to be more tests done to understand what is causing your symptoms if the findings form the Holter monitor don't provide clear answers.