Southern California Heart Centers' state of the art facility and highly trained personnel provide excellence in Holter monitoring and ensure the most comfortable patient experience.


HOLTER MONITOR

A Holter monitor is a device that provides a continuous EKG monitoring of the heart for an extended period of time. An EKG is a non-invasive device that uses electrodes placed on the skin at various locations on the body to measure the electrical activity of the heart and can detect abnormalities such as irregular heartbeats or damage to the heart muscle. However, a normal EKG conducted in the doctor's office can only measure the electrical activity over the few minutes that it takes to complete the test. In order to capture abnormalities that only occur sporadically, a doctor may order a Holter monitor test. A Holter monitor uses electrodes like an EKG, but instead of producing an immediate report, it records the data on a portable device that is the approximate size of a tape recorder. The duration of a Holter test can vary, but it is most commonly performed for 24 hours. A less common test known as an Event Holter may be conducted for up to one month.

A Holter monitor test may be used to:

  • Diagnose arrhythmias
  • Evaluate conditions causing palpitations, syncope (fainting), or dizziness
  • Evaluate need for a pacemaker or ICD implantation.

PREPARING FOR A HOLTER MONITOR TEST

No special preparations are necessary for a Holter monitor test. However, you will not be able to bathe while the Holter monitor is hooked up, so it is recommended that you do so before coming to the doctor's office on the day of the test.


BEFORE A HOLTER MONITOR TEST

The patient should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing which will help make the electrodes and Holter monitor less conspicuous. A shirt or blouse that buttons down in the front is recommended. Avoid shirts with low necklines. Please leave all jewelry and valuables at home.


HOOKING UP A HOLTER MONITOR

The Holter technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions the patient may have. The technician will then attach electrodes to certain locations on your chest and abdomen. Men with chest hair may have small sections shaved to allow the electrodes to help the electrodes stick better. The technician will then connect the electrodes to the recording device and check to see that it is able to record the heart signals properly. The technician will then program the device to start recording and provide further instructions on how to properly wear the device. The Holter device will be placed in a pouch that can be belted to your waist or worn over the shoulder.

Hooking up a Holter monitor will take approximately 15 minutes.


24-HOUR HOLTER MONITOR TEST

Once the Holter is activated, you are free to resume normal activities with the exception of bathing or swimming. You are encouraged to go about your normal daily routine as the test is to monitor if your heart does anything unusual while you are undergoing normal activity. Keep the device attached at all times, even while you are sleeping.

You will be given a diary to record your daily activities, and any unusual symptoms that you experience during the period. Make sure you record the time of any events as your doctor will compare data from the Holter monitor to your diary and see if there is any correlation with cardiac events.

At the end of the 24-hour period, you will return to the doctor's office to have the device removed. Alternatively, you can remove the electrodes yourself and return the device, if your schedule does not allow you to return to the office exactly 24 hours later.


EVENT HOLTER TEST

An event Holter is similar to the 24-hour Holter, but the device does not continuously record data for the entire period. Instead, it will only record an EKG when you press a button on the device. This allows the device to be worn for a much longer period of time, up to one month.

Once the event Holter is activated, you are free to resume normal activities. If you experience any unusual symptoms, press the event button on the device and it will record your EKG at that moment. You should not get the event Holter wet, but it can be detached for short periods of time in order for you to bathe. If you experience any symptoms while the device is detached, reattach it immediately and press the event button.

At the end of the monitoring period, you will return the device to the doctor's office.


AFTER A HOLTER/EVENT HOLTER PROCEDURE

Upon completion of the test, your doctor will review the data and provide you with the results in about one week. If he sees a dangerous rhythm you may be asked to return sooner for immediate follow-up. Your doctor will determine if the Holter reveals any cardiac conditions and recommend further testing or intervention if necessary.