Holter monitoring is also known as Ambulatory EKG and is a way to monitor and record the electrical activity of the heart. It is worn throughout the day during normal daily activities. The device is small, portable, and similar in size to a cell phone.
What does the Holter monitoring do?
The Holter monitoring device records how fast your heart is beating, determines whether the rhythm of the heartbeat is steady or irregular, as well as the strength of the impulses that pass through each part of the heart. Similar to a standard EKG test, the Holter monitoring device has electrodes with sticky patches that attach to the skin’s surface directly on the chest.
A cardiovascular doctor will monitor the results and will likely ask patients to adjust certain parts of their daily activity during the testing period. The purpose of Holter monitoring is to test heart irregularities long-term as opposed to brief tests at a cardiovascular clinic. Some Holter monitoring devices can even be implanted below the skin to make it easier to bathe and continue with daily activities.
What are the risks of using a Holter monitor device?
Some users have experienced small risks from the device including skin irritation at the application site of where the sticky electrode patches are. Implanted device users might experience some pain and discomfort at the implanted site, which can be resolved with a prescription of pain medication. Users must avoid magnets, metal detectors, microwave ovens, electric blankets, electric toothbrushes, and electric razors when wearing a Holter monitor. Other electronic devices like cell phones, MP3 players, and tablets must be used at a minimum and stay away from the monitor itself.
If the vascular specialist recommends using a Holter/event monitor, they will provide specific instructions to you, along with the duration of time it needs to be worn.