A Holter monitor is a small, battery-powered medical device that measures heart’s activity, such as rate and rhythm. The doctor may ask to use one if they need more information about how heart functions than a routine electrocardiogram (EKG) can give them.
Twenty-four hour Holter monitoring is a continuous test to record heart’s rate and rhythm for 24 hours. The patient will wear the Holter monitor for 12 to 48 hours. This device has electrodes and electrical leads exactly like a regular EKG, but it has fewer leads. It can pick up not only heart’s rate and rhythm but also when the patient feel chest pains or exhibit symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia.
Holter monitor testing is also sometimes called ambulatory electrocardiography. There are other types of devices that can be used to measure heart activity for longer periods of time.
Uses of Holter monitoring
An EKG is a medical test that’s used to measure heart rate and rhythm. It’s also used to look for other abnormalities that may affect normal heart function. During an EKG, electrodes are placed on chest to check heart’s rhythm. The patient may experience heart rhythm irregularities that don’t show up at the time the EKG is done because you're only hooked up to the machine for a very brief amount of time.
Abnormal heart rhythms and other types of cardiac symptoms can come and go. Monitoring for a longer period of time is necessary to record these events. The Holter monitor lets the doctor see how the patient's heart functions on a long-term basis. The recordings made by the monitor help doctor determine if the patient's heart is getting enough oxygen or if the electrical impulses in the heart are delayed or early. These irregular impulses may be referred to as arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms.
If the patient is already being treated for heart disease, wearing the monitor can help doctor determine if the medicine is working or if changes need to be made. It can also help them to see why the patient might be experiencing other symptoms of irregular heartbeat, such as dizziness, faintness, or feeling like heart is racing or skipping a beat.