During an ECG, electrodes are placed on your chest to check your heart’s rhythm. You may experience heart rhythm irregularities that don’t show up at the time the ECG is done because sometimes an electrocardiogram doesn’t detect any irregularities in your heart rhythm because you’re hooked up to the machine for only a short time. If your signs and symptoms suggest that an occasionally irregular heart rhythm may be causing your condition, your doctor may recommend that you wear a Holter monitor for a day or so.
The Holter monitor lets your doctor see how your heart functions on a long-term basis.
Twenty-four hour Holter monitoring is a continuous test to record your heart’s rate and rhythm for 24 hours. You wear the Holter monitor for 24 to 48 hours as you go about your normal daily routine. This device has electrodes and electrical leads exactly like a regular ECG, but it has fewer leads. It can pick up not only your heart’s rate and rhythm but also when you feel chest pains or exhibit symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia.
How it works
The Holter monitor is small. Several leads, or wires, are attached to the monitor. The leads connect to electrodes that are placed on the skin of your chest with a glue-like gel. The metal electrodes conduct your heart’s activity through the wires and into the Holter monitor, where it’s recorded.
You wear a small pouch around your neck that holds the monitor itself. It’s important to keep the monitor close to your body during the testing period to make sure the readings are accurate. Your doctor will show you how to reattach electrodes if they become loose or fall off during the testing period.
You’re encouraged to participate in your normal activities during the 24/48-hour Holter test.
After the recommended testing time frame has passed, you’ll return to your doctor’s office to have the Holter monitor removed. Your doctor will read your activity journal and analyze the results of the monitor. Depending on the results of the test, you may need to undergo further testing before a diagnosis is made.