A holter monitor is a device that records your heart rhythm. You may be asked to wear the monitor which will record your heart beat. The holter monitor is used by your physician if the electrocardiogram does not give your doctor enough information about your heart rhythm. Your cardiologist uses the information from the holter monitor to figure out if you have a heart rhythm problem.
A Holter monitor is performed if you have problems such as a irregular heart beat or arrhythmia. The holter monitor may be able to detect irregularities in your heart rhythm that an electrocardiogram could not, since an electrocardiogram only takes a few seconds of your heart rhythm.
Before your holter monitor test you should take a bath. Since ounce your monitoring begins you will not be able to get the monitor wet or remove it. A technician will place the electrodes that sense your heart beat on your chest. For men a small amount of hair may have to be shaved, to make sure the electrodes stick. The technician will then connect some wires to the leads and to a recording device and will instruct you on how to properly wear the recording device, so it can transmit data transmitted from the electrode. You will also be instructed to keep a diary of all activities you do while wearing the monitor. It is particularly important to record any palpitations, skipped beats, shortness of breath, chest pain or lightheadedness you feel.
Holter monitoring is painless and noninvasive. You can hide the electrodes and wires under your clothes, and can wear the recording device on your belt or attached to a strap. Once your monitoring begins, don't take the holter monitor off -- you must wear it at all times, event while you sleep.
Once the monitoring period is over you will return the monitor to your cardiologist office. A technician will remove the electrodes from your chest. You will turn in the diary and a doctor will go over the monitor and the diary. Make sure you record all abnormal symptoms, if you have an abnormal rhythm this will be important information for your doctor to know. The information from the monitor may reveal that you have a heart condition or your doctor may need to order more tests. In some cases the results of the holter monitor may lead to a diagnosis or it may show a normal heart rhythm that requires no treatment.