Holter Monitor

1 What is a Holter Monitor?

A small wearable device that keeps track of your heart rhythm is called Holter monitor. This device will record all of your heartbeats for one to two days as suggested by your doctor.

If the electrocardiogram does not give your doctor enough information about your heart’s condition, a Holter monitor test will be done.

Your doctor may recommend a wireless Holter monitor that can work for weeks if a standard monitoring does not capture your irregular heartbeat, he will use the information captured on this device to check if you have a heart rhythm problem.

This is an important test because your doctor can diagnose what condition you have even if wearing this can be a little inconvenient.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to receive a Holter monitor.

Your doctor will first recommend electrocardiogram if you have signs and symptoms of a heart problem such an unexplained fainting or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

This test which is a brief and noninvasive is used to check your heart’s rhythm by taping electrodes to your chest.

But if the test does not work because you are only hooked up to the machine for a short time, he may suggest the use of Holter monitor for a day or two to check your heartbeat if it suggests occasionally irregular heart rhythm.

This monitor can detect irregularities in your heart rhythm that an electrocardiogram could not detect. He can also recommend Holter monitor up to two days if you have a heart condition that increases your risk of abnormal heart rhythm.

3 Potential Risks

Other than the feeling of discomfort or skin irritation where the electrodes were placed, there are no risks involving the use of a Holter monitor.

This device cannot get wet because it will be damaged so you are not allowed to bathe whenever you are using it, but your doctor will show you how to use a wireless monitor so you can disconnect and reconnect the sensors and the monitor if you are going to take a bath.

Your doctor will ask you to avoid devices such as magnets, metal detectors, electric blankets, microwave oven, electric toothbrushes and electric razors because these can interrupt the signal from the electrodes even your portable music players and cell phones should be kept away 6 inches from the monitor.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your Holter monitor, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

You will have an appointment first with your doctor for the fitting of the device then he will ask you to take a bath before the monitoring because the monitor is not allowed to be wet.

The electrodes are about the size of a silver dollar and a technician will place these on your chest to sense your heartbeat. A small amount of hair may be shaved to make sure the electrodes will stick for men.

After placing it on your chest, the electrician will connect them o a recording device which is a size of a deck of cards that has several wires and will tell you instructions on how to properly wear it to record the data transmitted from the electrodes.

You will have to record all the activities that you do while the device is attached to your chest even the symptoms of palpitations, shortness of breath, shipped heartbeats, lightheadedness and chest pain in a diary or your doctor might give you a form to help your record any symptoms and all of your activities.

You can return to your normal activities once your monitor is fitted and you have received instructions on how to wear it.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your Holter monitor procedure.

This test is noninvasive and painless. You can wear the recording device on your belt or attached to a strap and you can hide the electrodes under your clothes.

Your doctor will instruct you to not remove the device even if you are asleep. You can do your everyday routine while wearing it.

Your will tell you when are you going to take it off, it may be from 24 to 48 hours depending on your condition and how frequently you have symptoms of a heartbeat. A wireless monitor can work for weeks.

You need to keep a diary of all the things that you are doing while wearing this device even the time that you are doing them.

You will also have to write any symptoms that you will encounter while wearing it such as shortness of breath, skipped heartbeats or chest pain.

Your doctor will then compare the Holter monitor from your diary to help him diagnose your condition.

A technician or nurse will remove the electrodes from your chest that can cause skin irritation or discomfort just like an adhesive bandage being pulled off your skin after the monitoring period is over.

6 Procedure Results

Your doctor will discuss with you the results after he looked at the results of what you have written in your diary and the Holter monitor recorder.

This may tell if you need additional tests to find out what may be causing your symptoms of it may reveal that you have a heart condition.

Doctors sometimes cannot diagnose a patient’s condition based on the results in the monitor especially if you do not have irregular heart rhythms in some cases.

If this happens, your doctor will suggest wearing a wireless Holter monitor that can be worn longer than the standard one.

There is also a recorder called event recorders that will require you to push a button when you feel symptoms and this has several types.

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