Holter Event Monitoring

Holter Event Monitoring

What is it?

Holter event monitoring is similar to an electrocardiogram (EKG) in that it detects and records the electrical activity of the heart. However, an EKG only records heartbeats for a few seconds, Holter event monitors are small, portable devices that a patient wears while performing normal daily activities allowing the monitor to record the heart for a longer period of time than the EKG.

How does it work?

The Holter monitor is a recording device which has a strap that is worn over the shoulder or around the waist. The Holter monitor is battery-powered and holds a regular-sized cassette tape. The monitor has five to seven leads (wires). The leads attach to metal disks (electrodes), which are worn on the chest. These electrodes are very sensitive, and they can pick up the electrical impulses of the heart. The impulses are recorded by the Holter monitor and give a doctor a 24-hour record of the heart's electrical activity.

Reasons for an Electrocardiogram

The Holter monitor can record heart rate and rhythm when a patient has chest pain or symptoms of an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) which include:

  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart Palpitations

What to Expect

Holter monitoring is a painless test. A technician will clean, and possibly shave, the areas on the chest where the small metal discs (electrodes) will be placed. The electrodes have wires (leads), which may be taped down to prevent moving around.

Once the monitor is in place, it will be worn for 12 to 24 hours and the patient will be asked to record a diary of daily activities including time and activity performed. This will help the doctor figure out what the patient was doing during the times that there were abnormal readings. Otherwise, the patient can perform typical activities, except those that might get the Holter monitor wet.

Other everyday items also can disrupt the signal between the sensors and the monitor. These items include magnets, metal detectors, microwave ovens, and electric blankets, toothbrushes, and razors. Avoid using these items. Cell phones and iPods may interfere with the signal if they’re too close to the monitor. When using any electronic device, try to keep it at least 6 inches away from the monitor.

The test is completely safe and painless and no special preparation is needed before having a Holter monitor fitted and place on the body.

St. Luke's Heart & Vascular