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Holter monitor

A Holter monitor is a portable and wearable electrocardiogram device to record the heartbeat and identifies abnormal heart rhythms. Certain arrhythmias, which occur only now and then,

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Holter monitor

A Holter monitor is a portable and wearable electrocardiogram device to record the heartbeat and identifies abnormal heart rhythms. Certain arrhythmias, which occur only now and then, cannot be detected by a conventional electrocardiogram recording device. Therefore, your doctor may ask you to wear a Holter monitor to capture those missed heart rhythm irregularities. 

When do you need a Holter monitor?

At first, your doctor will order an electrocardiogram to evaluate your heart rhythm. If there is a sign of infrequent arrhythmias, you need to wear a Holter monitor for 1-2 days. Some people with less frequent symptoms may need to wear a cardiac event recorder for 2-3 weeks.

If you develop unexplained syncope, signs and symptoms of arrhythmia, and a heart condition, which can lead to arrhythmias, you may also need to wear a Holter monitor.

How should you prepare yourself?

Before your appointment for a Holter monitor placement, you should take a bath/shower because the monitor should stay on continuously until the recording, which usually takes 1-2 days, is over. 

Your chest will be cleaned or shaved so electrodes can adhere optimally to your chest skin. Those electrodes have wires to connect with the Holter monitor, which is about 3.5" x 2.5" in size (a deck of cards). Once you put on a Holter monitor, your doctor will explain and give you some instructions. You can resume your daily activities afterward. 

What should you do when wearing a Holter monitor?

  • Turn on and wear the Holter monitor at all times, even during sleep.
  • Avoid wetting the Holter monitor, and do not take a shower.
  • Keep a diary of your activities and the time you do them.
  • Write down symptoms you have, particularly fluttering or skipped heartbeats, chest pain, and dizziness. 


Are there any risks in wearing a Holter monitor?

A Holter monitor is a painless and noninvasive device with no significant risks. However, some people may develop minor skin irritation or discomfort at the electrode sites. 

Usually, home appliances do not cause electrical interference. However, using some electrical devices near a Holter monitor can result in faulty readings. Avoid being near these electrical appliances: 

  • Mobile phones
  • Electric blankets, razors, and toothbrushes
  • Magnets
  • Metal detectors
  • Microwave ovens 
  • Portable music players


When will you have the result?

When the heartbeat monitoring is complete (usually 1-2 days), return the device and give your diary to your doctor. The information from the device and your notes will be reviewed and discussed with you. The recording can reveal if you are developing heart disease. 

If the Holter monitoring is unrevealing due to rarer heart rhythm events, you may need to wear a cardiac event recorder for 2-3 weeks. This device requires you to push a button to record the EKG when you have symptoms related to an abnormal heart rhythm.

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Published: 29 Nov 2022

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