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Holter Monitoring

The Holter monitor
gets it name from its inventor physicist Norman J. Holter who invented telemetric cardiac monitoring in 1949. This type of monitoring became available in the early 1960s.

What You Need To Know About Holter Monitoring

A Holter monitor is a small electronic recorder that makes a nonstop electrocardiogram or EKG of the heart over a full 24 to 48 hour or longer period. This portable EKG measures the electrical beats and rhythms of the heart. The test does not hurt and all testing takes place on the outside of the body.

Holter MonitorHolter Monitoring

A Holter monitor is worn during the patient's normal daily activities, Holtor monitoring helps your doctor match any symptoms of dizziness, palpitations (a sensation of fast or irregular heart rhythm) or black outs to what your heart is doing at these moments. Holter and event monitors also can show whether a heart rhythm problem is harmless or whether it needs treatment.  For the Afib sufferer it will catch episodes of arrhythmia that the doctor may miss especially those with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation which may occur "when the doctor's not looking" so to speak.  Since the recording covers 24 hours or more, on a continuous basis, Holter monitoring is much more likely to detect an abnormal heart rhythm when compared to the EKG which lasts less than a minute.

You will also receive instructions when you get the monitor and leads are connected.  Many monitors are also equipped with an "event" button.  Pressing the button during a symptom (dizziness, for example) will help the technician mark the area from that precise time.  You will also be asked to keep a diary of your activities so the doctor can match events on the device with what you may be feeling or doing.

How do I prepare for the Test?

The only requirement is that the patient wear loose-fitting clothes.  Buttons down the front of a shirt or blouse are preferable.  This makes it convenient to apply the EKG electrodes, and also comfortably carry the monitor in a relatively discreet manner. You will be instructed not to get the unit wet (shower) or engage in any strenuous activities which may cause interference with the unit.

How long does it take?

It takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to apply the monitor and less than 5 minutes to remove it. You can remove the electrodes and pack up the monitor in a bag yourself after the timer counts down to zero or the nurse will remove it for you when you bring the monitor back after the test.

What's Next

The Holter monitor will be connected to a computer, which will enable a technician to see a constant EKG of the time you had the monitor on. Since it would be extremely time demanding to browse through such a long test, there is an integrated automatic analysis process in each Holter software which automatically determines and records different sorts of heart beats, rhythms, etc. Software analysis will also help your doctor see any abnormal rhythms during the time frame.  This report usually takes one to two weeks to process and then your doctor will discuss the findings with you.

If the technician sees a life-threatening or potentially dangerous condition, your doctor would be called immediately.

Holter TechnicianHolter Readout

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