HOLTER MONITOR (Ambulatory Electrocardiography Device)

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A portable device for continuous monitoring of various electrical activity of the cardiovascular system over a period of 12- or 48- hours.  The extended recording is useful for observing occasional cardiac arrhythmias that are difficult to identify on an electrocardiogram or for recording certain abnormalities that only occur during certain activities like sleeping or physical activities.  Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.

Who needs it?

Holter monitors are often recommended if:

  • Your doctor suspects you may have an arrhythmia.
  • You are feeling faint or dizzy.
  • You are experiencing palpitations.
  • You are currently being treated for heart rhythm problems (to see if treatment is effective).

 

What to expect before, during, and after?

BEFORE

A nurse or technician will help you put on the holter monitoring before leaving the office.  The monitor is relatively small and should not affect your activities throughout the rest of the day.  For good results, the sticky patches need to have good contact with the skin.  Sometimes, excess oil, sweat, or hair may cause the electrodes not to stick well.  The nurse or technician may need to shave or clean the area before putting on the monitor.

DURING

DURING

Because the monitor cannot get wet, you will not be allowed to bathe or shower during the recording period.  You may take a sponge bath if needed.

Your doctor will tell you whether or not to adjust your activity level during the testing period.  If exercising, it is advisable to stay in a cool place to avoid sweating too much as sweat can affect the stickiness of the electrode patches.  Sometimes, excess movement can also dislocate patches from the skin causing “noise” on the EKG.  Noise appears as disturbed signals and do not represent true rhythm so it is recommended that when you feel symptoms, try to stay still.  Other things to avoid include: magnets, metal detectors, microwave ovens, and electric items such as: blankets, toothbrushes, and razors.  Cell phones may also interfere with the signal between the sensor and the monitor so it is best to keep cellular devices at least 6 inches from the monitor.

AFTER

The monitor is typically kept on for 12- or 24- hours and you will be asked to return to the office to have to monitor removed.  An electrophysiologist will analyze and interpret the findings and you will be scheduled to return to the office to listen to the extensive report findings.

 

Are there any risks I should be aware of?

Like the EKG, the sticky patches may cause minor irritation but the redness and rash should go away shortly.  No treatment is necessary.

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