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.
Once the monitor is in place, you will receive instructions and precautionary measures regarding the use of the monitor, including:
- Keep the device dry once monitoring begins
- Change the batteries if required
- Press the button on the monitor if you experience any symptoms
- Maintain a diary of every symptom experienced along with the date and time of occurrence
It is important to record any signs of palpitations, chest pain, and changes in heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, skipped heartbeats, or lightheadedness in your diary. The doctor might also give a form in which you can record your heart activities and related symptoms.
What are the Benefits of a Holter Monitor?
A Holter monitor is a small and convenient device. It is often recommended if you have an abnormal heart rhythm or ischemia, i.e., a lack of blood flow to your heart muscles.
It can serve as a diagnostic tool for several heart conditions, such as:
- Atrial fibrillation, which refers to a rapid heartbeat that can cause strokes.
- Ventricular tachycardia, which is a condition of a fast heartbeat that begins in the heart’s lower chambers.
- Cardiac arrhythmias, which refers to other conditions of irregular heartbeats, including signaling disorders and a slow heartbeat.
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
Do not avoid or delay seeking emergency help if you experience chest pain continuously or heart attack symptoms while wearing a Holter monitor.
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment
What are the Risks Related to a Holter Monitor?
A Holter monitor is a device that records your heart’s electrical activity without a pause, without the need for changes in your daily activity. It is a painless process, but in some cases, you may experience a mild skin irritation caused by the tape attaching the electrodes to your chest.
The Holter monitor is not waterproof and can be damaged from getting wet. Therefore, you will be instructed not to wear it while bathing, showering, or swimming. Be careful not to take off the device at any point, or it might miss recording a crucial heart event that could signify the status of your heart health. In the case of a wireless Holter monitor, you will be instructed on how to disconnect and reconnect the monitor and the sensors by the technician to be followed when bathing or showering.
Some electrical appliances and household devices can interrupt the electrodes signal to the Holter monitor. Therefore, place your monitor at least 6 inches away from mobile phones and stay away from MP3 players.
Other objects and conditions that may damage the device include:
- Magnets, high-voltage electrical wires, magnets
- Electric razors and toothbrushes
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Certain medications
When will the Doctor Discuss the Test Results?
Once the doctor has studied the results recorded by the Holter monitor and compared them with the notes from your activity diary, they will discuss the results with you. The information recorded by the Holter monitor can help determine whether you have a heart condition or may reveal symptoms that can lead to severe health issues. In the latter case, the doctor might recommend a few additional tests to understand the symptoms.
A Holter monitor test is painless and one of the most effective techniques to identify arrhythmias Your doctor may be unable to provide a diagnosis based on the test if there are no irregular heart rhythms recorded while wearing the device. In such cases, the doctor might suggest a wireless Holter monitor or an event recorder. These devices can be worn for a longer duration than a standard Holter monitor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What causes you to feel palpitations?
Heart palpitations or skipping of heartbeats might feel like your heart is throbbing, fluttering, or pounding. Heart diseases, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, smoking, caffeine, and fever are some of the factors that can trigger heart palpitations. Making lifestyle changes can prevent the occurrence of an attack. During an attack, stay calm and breathe deeply until the palpitations pass and consider seeking urgent medical attention
- How is a Holter monitor better than a regular electrocardiogram?
A Holter monitor continuously records your heart’s electrical activity for 24 to 48 hours. Unlike the traditional electrocardiogram, the Holter monitor has an extended duration that gives a better chance of picking up abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmia.
- What are the risks of using a Holter monitor?
A Holter monitor is a painless and non-invasive test. But, there are a few precautions to be followed while using the device. Firstly, the monitor is not waterproof and cannot get wet. Also, the monitor has to be kept away from magnets, metal detectors, high-voltage electrical wires, microwaves, etc., to avoid interruption of the device’s signal.