Marquette General Heart Institute
Holter monitor records your heart rhythm continuously, usually for
24 to 48 hours, as you go about your normal activities. It is helpful
in identifying heart rhythm changes that might occur periodically
throughout the day.
An arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm, may reflect a change
in either the speed or pattern of the heartbeat. These abnormal
beats could be occurring too fast, too slow or irregularly. Medical
personnel can see an arrhythmia on an electrocardiogram (ECG), a
recording of the heart's electrical activity. Often though, the
abnormal beats may not occur during the actual time the recording
is taken. This is when a Holter monitor comes in handy. The Holter
monitor is worn and records your heart's activity for 24-48 hours,
while you go about your normal activities.
Doctors may order a Holter monitor to:
arrhythmias, not documented on a standard ECG
symptoms of dizziness, palpitations or fainting
the appropriateness of medications designed to control the heart
What is a Holter
monitor? The monitor itself is a small, portable recorder worn either
on the waist or over the shoulder. Your ECG is continuously recorded
on the device. Sticky patches called electrodes are placed on your
chest and connected to the recorder.
You will wear the recorder and go about your normal activities.
If you experience any of symptoms (dizziness, palpitations, shortness
of breath, chest pain), you will press a button and record the time
and symptoms in a diary. Also record any medications taken. The
ECG recording then can be correlated with your symptoms.
You'll keep the recorder on for the entire testing time, even though
you may have already recorded the symptoms. You are encouraged to
go about your normal activities, including exercise. You are asked
however not to shower or get the electrodes wet. At the end of the
testing time, you will return to the office to have the recorder
removed, or be given instructions regarding removing and returning
Your test results are usually available within a few days from your
physician. The recording is scanned by a technician, analyzed by
a computer, printed, and reviewed by a physician. The information
your doctor receives from monitoring your heart activity, helps
to identify the true cause of your symptoms. Your doctor will then
be able to identify the appropriate plan of care for you.