24-Hour Holter Monitoring

Written by Erica Roth | Published on August 15, 2012
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP

What is a Holter Monitor?

A Holter monitor is a small of portable, battery-powered medical device that measures the heart’s activity such as rate and rhythm). This testing is ordered when your doctor needs more information about the functioning of your heart than a routine electrocardiogram (EKG) can give him or her.

Holter monitoring (24h) refers to a 24-hour, continuous test to record your heart rate and rhythm. This device has electrodes and electrical leads exactly like a regular electrocardiogram. A patient wears the Holter monitor for 12 to 48 hours as they go about their normal daily routines.

Holter monitor testing is also sometimes called ambulatory electrocardiography.

Reasons Your Doctor May Order Holter Monitoring

An electrocardiogram is a medical test that is typically ordered to measure heart rate and rhythm and to look for other abnormalities that may affect normal heart function. However, patients may experience heart rhythm irregularities that do not show up at the time the electrocardiogram is done. In these cases, if an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) is suspected, your doctor may order a Holter monitor test.

The Holter monitor lets your doctor see how your heart functions on a long-term basis. The recordings made by the monitor help your doctor determine if your heart is getting enough oxygen or if the electrical impulses in the heart are delayed.

How it Works

The Holter monitor is small, slightly larger than a deck of playing cards. 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 into the Holter monitor.

A small pouch holds the monitor itself, which you wear around your neck. 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 re-attach electrodes if they become loose or fall off during the testing period.

You are encouraged to participate in your normal activities during the Holter 24-hour test. You will be directed to record your activities in a notebook. This helps your doctor determine if changes in heart activity are related to your behaviors and movements.

Holter monitor testing is painless. However, be sure to record any chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or other cardiac symptoms you experience during the testing period.

Accuracy of Testing

Keep the Holter monitor dry to ensure the equipment functions properly. Take a bath or shower before your appointment to have the monitor fitted. Avoid activities that might lead to the monitor getting wet.

Keeping the Holter monitor dry and avoiding activities that might lead to the monitor getting wet will ensure proper functioning of the equipment.

Magnetic and electrical fields may interfere with the function of the Holter monitor. Avoid areas of high voltage while wearing the monitor. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions patients not to use electric blankets or to go through a metal detector during the testing period.

Understanding the Results

After the recommended testing time frame has passed, you will return to your healthcare provider to have the Holter monitor removed. Your doctor will read your activity journal and the results of the monitor. Depending on the results of the test, you may need to undergo further testing before a diagnosis is made.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Article Sources:

More on Healthline

The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
These best multiple sclerosis apps provide helpful information and tools to keep track of your symptoms, including medication reminders.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Leading a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in your COPD symptoms. Learn more about basic changes that will make it easier to manage your COPD.
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
From first exposure to life-threatening complications, learn how quickly an allergy attack can escalate and why it can become life threatening.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement