24 Hour Holter Monitoring
A Holter monitor is a small, portable device that continuously records the heart's rhythm. A Holter monitor allows your doctor to watch your heart rhythm for a full 24-48 hours as opposed to the very brief "snapshot" provided by an electrocardiogram (EKG). The monitor is worn inconspicuously under one's clothing for 24 to 48 hours during normal activity.
The Holter monitor can detect irregularities in the heart rhythm that occur too infrequently (and not continuously) to be detectable with a standard EKG.
A Holter monitor may be used to monitor the heart rate and rhythm after a heart attack or to monitor the effectiveness of a new heart medication. The Holter can detect virtually any abnormal heart rhythm including heart block, "sick sinus syndrome" (periods of very slow heart rate), atrial fibrillation or flutter, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), frequent PVC's, as well as dangerous ventricular arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia.
How A Holter Monitor Works
Electrodes are attached to the patient's chest using adhesive. The electrodes then are attached by wires to a small recording monitor. The Holter monitor runs on batteries and is carried in a pocket or pouch worn around the neck or waist. The Holter monitor, worn for 24 to 48 hours, records the heart's activity throughout that time period. This consistent monitoring may detect arrhythmias that only occur at certain times, such as after physical exertion or during sleep. While wearing the Holter monitor, individuals are asked to record any symptoms that occur as well as their activities, so the doctor can correlate the findings of the Holter monitor with your symptoms.
After the Holter monitor is removed, the doctor will review the results of the test and compare them with any information that the patient recorded while wearing the monitor. A diagnosis may be determined from the results of this test; however in some cases, additional testing may be necessary. There is no risk involved in wearing a Holter monitor and the test is painless.
If longer term monitoring (weeks or months) is required, OHVI also offers event monitors and MCT monitors which can be worn for up to four weeks or implantation of a tiny device under the skin of the chest called a "loop recorder" which avoids the need to wear a monitor and allows continuous cardiac rhythm monitoring for up to 3-4 years if needed. The device is inserted and removed in a brief procedure under local anesthesia.