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What is a Holter Monitor?

Fastening a Holter monitor onto a patient.

Photo by Tyler Olson for Shutterstock

You may have seen a Holter monitor before, but have no idea what it does or why it is used. Holter monitors are incredible medical devices that are used if a patient is suspected to have arrhythmia in their heart. Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that’s due to experiencing abnormal electrical impulses. These impulses begin in the right atrium of the heart and work their way to all of the ventricles – this process creates a heartbeat. There are many types of arrhythmia, and some are more dangerous than others. In the most severe varieties arrhythmia can lead to organ failure, as with each passing beat the body’s vital organs are not getting enough blood pumped to them. This is where the Holter monitor comes in – it gathers data and serves as a portable device for an electrocardiogram (EKG).

How Holter Monitors Work

For up to two days, a patient wears a Holter monitor as they go about their everyday routine. Several electrodes are attached to different parts of the patient’s chest, and the gathered data on the heart patterns is stored in monitor’s main body. A Holter monitor is noninvasive and barely noticeable – these monitors are discreet devices that you need not be embarrassed by. And they are incredibly important for your doctor in the accurate diagnosis of heart irregularities.

Special Instructions

You have to wear your Holter monitor at all times for the most accurate reading of your heart’s behavior, including when you are sleeping. The device cannot get wet, so before you go in and have the nurse fasten the electrodes on your chest, make sure you have bathed ahead of time – especially if you’re doing the monitoring for more than one day. There are also several things to avoid, as they can interfere with the reading. The Mayo Clinic provides a list of items to avoid, including:

  • Metal detectors
  • Microwave ovens
  • Magnets
  • Electric razors or toothbrushes
  • Electric blankets
  • Wireless proximity – Maintain a 6-inch distance (at least) between a cellular device and the Holter monitor

Call Brookhaven Heart Today

A Holter monitor offers a painless procedure that can uncover a potentially life-threatening heart condition. We offer Holter monitors for our patients at each of our Brookhaven Heart locations, where doctors from our incredible team of physicians are ready to meet with you. Schedule an appointment today by calling us at 631-654-3278 or book online. Our offices are located in Patchogue, New Hyde Park, and Hicksville, New York.