Arrhythmia is the condition of abnormal heart rhythm, i.e., when your heart skips a beat, races, or works too slow. If you are diagnosed with this condition or at a high risk of developing one, the doctor might suggest you wear a Holter monitor for a few days to track your heart’s rhythm during your routine tasks or hospitalization.
What is a Holter Monitor?
A Holter monitor is a portable ECG-like device that continuously monitors and records heartbeats. It is a small, battery-operated device that can be worn easily, like as a shoulder bag, around the neck like a camera, fixed to a belt, or carried around in a pocket. The monitor continuously records your heart activity, generally recommended for one to two days.
When Does a Doctor Recommend a Holter Monitor?
A Holter monitor test is usually performed if an electrocardiogram report does not provide enough information about the heart condition.
An electrocardiogram is a traditional test that involves electrodes affixed to your chest to track and measure the movement of electrical signals or waves passing through your heart. These signals instruct the heart to contract and pump blood. Being a short-duration test, sometimes, an electrocardiogram is unable to detect irregularities in the heart, especially the intermittent forms of arrhythmia. These irregularities can lead to severe consequences such as a heart attack or a stroke.
The doctor might recommend a Holter monitor if you are facing certain issues like:
- Shortness of breath, tiredness, or dizziness
- Pounding, fast, or fluttering heartbeat
- Chest pain that is not brought on by an exercise or test
- To understand how well you are responding to your heart medication or pacemaker
- To examine risk, if any, for future heart problems, possibly after a heart attack or due to hereditary or pre-existing conditions
How is a Holter Monitor Placed?
A Holter monitor consists of small wires connecting the monitor to the patches called electrodes, which are about the size of a coin. The electrodes are taped on your chest. At times, the extra tape will be required to prevent the patches from falling off.
The technician will then connect the electrode to a recording device and give you a set of instructions on handling the device. At your next appointment, the doctor will download the information recorded by the device and provide the results to you within a week. The recorded results are then compared with your symptom-diary to help diagnose any heart problems.
How do you Prepare Yourself for a Holter Monitor Procedure?
If your health practitioner recommends you undergo Holter monitoring, the device will be provided and placed during a scheduled appointment. Once the device is fitted, you can resume your daily activities. It has to be worn at all times, even while sleeping. You can conceal the electrodes and wires under your clothes, and the recording device can be worn on a belt or attached to a strap.