Holter monitoring provides a continuous recording of heart rhythm during normal activity. The monitor is usually worn for 24 hours to obtain a recording of a complete day.
Some heart conditions occur infrequently, making it difficult for a doctor to properly evaluate them-or, sometimes a prolonged observation is needed to adequate diagnose and prescribe treatment.
In such cases, a doctor may decide to use “ambulatory electrocardiography,” the most common form being “Holter monitoring.” Holter monitoring provides a continuous recording of heart rhythm during normal activity. The monitor is usually worn for 24 hours to obtain a recording of a complete day.
What can I expect?
Shower or bathe before you start the test — you will not be able to do so while you are wearing a Holter monitor. Avoid magnets, metal detectors, electric blankets, and high-voltage areas while wearing the device.
The procedure is painless, though hair may need to be shaved from the chest for electrode placement. Since Holter Monitoring is essentially an electrocardiogram, you can expect a similar experience (see electrocardiogram). Small electrodes will be placed on your chest and attached to a small recording monitor that you can carry in a pocket or in a small pouch worn around your neck. You will be given instructions on how to replace electrodes should they become loose.
The monitor is battery operated allowing you complete mobility.
The device records your heart activity just like a typical electrocardiogram, but it does it for an extended period, usually for a 24 hours. You will be asked to keep a diary of your activities. Afterwards, the recording is analyzed, a report of the heart’s activity is tabulated, and irregular heart activity is correlated with your activity at the time.
It is very important that you accurately record your symptoms and activities so that the doctor can correlate them with your Holter monitor findings.
Why the test is performed
Holter monitoring is used to determine how the heart responds to normal activity, but it is also used:
- When given cardiac medication
- After a heart attack
- To diagnose an abnormal or dangerous heart rhythm
- It is normal to have some variation in heart rate during daily activities, but extreme or irregular variations can indicate problems. Abnormal results may include too fast, too slow, or irregular heart rhythms, odd electrical conduction patterns in the heart, Atrial fibrillation/flutter, heart palpitations, and fainting.