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arrhythmia Holter

Patient with ECG electrodes.jpg

What is the arrhythmia holter?

A Holter monitor is a small, portable device that records your heart rhythm. It is used to detect or determine the risk of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).

A test with a Holter monitor may be done if the EKG or traditional EKG does not provide enough detail about the heart condition. If irregular heartbeats are infrequent, a long-term monitor called an event recorder may need to be used.

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Why is it done?

Your treating doctor might recommend using a Holter monitor if you have the following:

  • Signs and symptoms of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

  • Fainting without apparent cause.

  • A heart condition that increases the risk of arrhythmias.

If you don't have arrhythmias often, an EKG may not pick them up. The Holter monitor can detect irregular heart rhythms that the EKG missed.

If standard Holter monitoring doesn't pick up an irregular heartbeat, your doctor might recommend that you wear a device called an event monitor to record your heartbeat for several weeks.


What risks does this study have?

There are no significant risks associated with the use of a Holter monitor. Some people have mild discomfort or skin irritation in the area where the sensors (electrodes) are placed.

In general, Holter monitors are not affected by other electrical devices. However, some devices can interrupt the signal that the electrodes send to the Holter monitor. If you have a Holter monitor in place, you should avoid the following:

  • electric blankets

  • Electric shavers and toothbrushes

  • magnets

  • Metal detectors

  • Microwaves

Also, keep cell phones and portable music players at least 6 inches (about 15 cm) from the Holter monitor for the same reason.


How to prepare

The Holter monitor is placed in our general practitioner's office during a scheduled appointment. It is advisable to bathe before this appointment. Most monitors cannot be removed and must be kept dry once monitoring begins.

Your doctor will place sensors (electrodes) on your chest. These electrodes detect the heartbeat. They are about the size of a coin. If you have chest hair, a small amount may be shaved off to ensure electrode adhesion.

Wires connect the electrodes to the Holter monitor recording device. The device is about the size of a deck of playing cards.

Once your Holter monitor is fitted and you've been given instructions on how to use it, you can leave the office and resume your normal activities.



A Holter monitor is usually worn for 1 to 2 days. During that time, the device records every heartbeat.

Holter monitoring is painless and invasive. Sensors (electrodes) and cables can be hidden under clothing. The device is worn on a belt or attached to a cummerbund.

Don't take off the Holter monitor; you must use it during the entire recording period, even while you sleep.

Water can damage the Holter monitor. Do not swim, do not take a bath during the entire time that you use the Holter monitor. 

While wearing the Holter monitor, you can do most other normal activities, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. We will give you a form so that you can record your activities and any type of symptom. It is very important that you observe if you have any of the following symptoms and when they occur:

  • Strong palpitations, a fluttering sensation, or interruptions in the heartbeat

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Daze

Write down the activities you do and the exact time you do them.


Once the monitoring period is over, you will need to return the device to our office. If you've been asked to keep a record of the symptoms you experienced while wearing the device, your doctor can compare the data from the Holter monitor with your notes. This can help the Cardiologist make an accurate diagnosis.


The Cardiologist will review the Holter monitor results and issue a written result. The information recorded on the Holter monitor can tell the Cardiologist if you have a heart condition and whether or not the heart medications you are currently taking are working.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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