Are you suffering from heart problem? Then, your cardiologist may advise Holter monitoring to observe the working of your heart. A Holter monitor is a very small device, almost the size of a small camera. It operates on a battery and is a portable device that records the activity of your heart continuously for around 24 hours or 48 hours as found necessary by the doctor.
The device is attached to your skin using the wires and the silver dollar-sized electrodes that are attached to it. Holter monitoring helps you to record the ECG as you continue with your daily activities. The ECG obtained in this way is known as ambulatory electrocardiograms.
Things to Know About Holter Monitoring
- You are asked to wear a Holter monitor if your caregiver suspects your heartbeat to be fast, irregular or slower than normal.
- Your doctor may advise you to wear it to evaluate the effect of medications and treatments on the working of your heart.
- In case, you are wearing a pacemaker and have been feeling dizzy, your caregiver will advise Holter monitoring to find out the working of the pacemaker
- Use of this device helps your doctor decide whether you need further diagnostic tests and medications or a pacemaker or a different procedure such as a cardioversion to get back your heart working to its natural rhythm.
- The process does not cause any pain and has no risks.
- The process does not cause any discomfort either as it comes with a long cord that you can attach to a nightstand when you want to go to bed. However, make sure that the electrodes are tightly attached to your body.
How is the Process of Holter Monitoring Carried Out?
- You need to go the doctor for fitting the Holter monitor. It is advisable to bath prior to the doctor's appointment because after the monitor has been attached to your body, you cannot wet it. So, taking a shower or a bath is not allowed.
- The areas on the chest where the electrodes are to be attached are cleaned by alcohol by the caregiver or the nurse. In case of men, if they have excessive chest hair, some areas might require slight shaving.
- The electrodes are then placed on various points on the chest using gel so that they stick onto the skin.
- In few cases, the doctors may advise tapping the electrode wires so that they do not move and disrupt the Holder monitoring.
- Doctors advise wearing the monitor for around 12 to 24 hours minimum. You are advised to maintain a log of your daily work and activities while you are wearing the Holder monitor. It helps the doctor to evaluate the cause behind abnormalities in the readings if there are any.
- Thus, you are allowed to carry out all your daily activities except getting wet.
- After the stipulated 12 or 24 hours, you will have to go to the doctor for removing the electrodes. It may be a bit painful, similar to what you feel while taking off a bandage.
When are you Advised to Wear Holter Monitor?
A heart specialist or a cardiologist takes regular cardiograms (EKGs or ECGs) so that he can look at the activity of your heart. If the doctor detects some abnormal rhythms and cardiac symptoms in the report, he may want to go for evaluation of your heartbeat over a particular period while you are carrying out your daily activities.
You have advised Holter monitoring if your heartbeats are fast, irregular or slow, a condition known as arrhythmias.
Risks of Holter Monitoring
As such, there are no risks of wearing a Holter monitor. But in case you are allergic to adhesive gels or solutions you should tell the technician attaching the electrodes on the chest beforehand to avoid any further problem.
Precautions for Holter Monitoring
The technicians fitting the Holter monitor give you a few precautionary tips to ensure proper recording of your chest beat and avoid damage to the monitor. These include:
- You should carry the monitor in a pouch or a pocket or in a purse that slung around your shoulders and neck just as you carry a camera.
- You can also keep it in a small pouch attached to your waist belt.
- You should avoid getting wait and taking X-rays when you are wearing the monitor
- It is advisable to avoid closeness to metal detectors, large magnets or high-voltage areas
- You must note down the exact time when you experience various symptoms such as uneven heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness in a dairy.
- Try to be as accurate as possible as your caregiver will compare these readings with your ECG and try to evaluate the condition of your heart and follow up treatment.
In case your doctor is not satisfied with the result of the Holter monitoring, he may advise you an event monitor, which is almost similar to the Holter monitor but is kept for the longer duration of up to 15 days. In very rare cases, especially in patients who have a tendency to collapse, doctors may advise surgical implantation of heart monitors under the skin. These are used for monitoring the heartbeats for a couple of months or more to evaluate the exact state of arrhythmia.