Holter Monitor

What is a holter monitor?

A holter monitor is a small external device that continuously records the electrical activity of a patient’s heart.  The monitor is quite small and is about the size of a pager.  The monitor can be placed in a patient’s pocket or attached to one’s belt.  The monitor has two small, soft wires which attach to adhesive electrodes placed over the patient’s chest.  These wires are very thin and be worn comfortably under one’s shirt so no one will be aware that the patient is wearing it.  The monitor is battery operated and is worn for 24 to 48 hours.  While the monitor is being worn, it records every beat of your heart.  The patient is also asked to record in a journal any symptoms that they may experience while wearing the monitor and the time that these symptoms occurred.  

Why is a holter monitor ordered?

A holter monitor allows your cardiologists to review your heart rhythm during th entire period that you wore the monitor.  Most importantly, the cardiologist can review your recorded heart rhythm at a time when a symptom was reported by the patient in their journal. This allows the cardiologist to determine if this symptom was the result of an abnormal heart rhythm.  The monitor also allows your cardiologist to screen for any silent abnormal heart rhythms that the patient may not have felt.

How is a holter monitor placed and how is it returned?

A holter monitor is placed by a nurse in our office.  The nurse will explain how to use the monitor and what to do if the wires or electrodes become unattached.  The monitor and the patient’s journal are returned to our office by the patient at the end of the 24 or 48 hours prescribed by the doctor. 

Are there any restrictions while wearing a holter monitor?

We encourage patients to resume their previous activities including exercise while wearing the holter monitor.  We simply ask that the monitor be kept dry. 

Are there any complications with a holter monitor?

The only potential complication with a holter monitor is skin irritation from the adhesive electrode.  We have special electrodes for patients with sensitive skin to minimize this risk.