A Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that keeps track of your heart rhythm. Your doctor may want you to wear a Holter monitor for one to two days. During that time, the device records all of your heartbeats.
A Holter monitor test is usually performed after a traditional test to check your heart rhythm (electrocardiogram) if the electrocardiogram doesn’t give your doctor enough information about your heart’s condition.
There are no significant risks involved in wearing a Holter monitor other than possible discomfort or skin irritation where the electrodes were placed.
However, the Holter monitor can’t get wet, or it will be damaged. Don’t swim or bathe for the entire time you’re wearing your Holter monitor. You should bathe before this appointment because once your monitoring begins you can’t get the monitor wet or remove the monitor to bathe.
A technician will place electrodes that sense your heartbeat on your chest. These electrodes are about the size of a silver dollar. For men, a small amount of hair may be shaved to make sure the electrodes stick.
The technician will then connect the electrode to a recording device with several wires and will instruct you on how to properly wear the recording device so that it can record data transmitted from the electrodes. The recording device is about the size of a deck of cards.
You’ll be instructed to keep a diary of all the activities you do while wearing the monitor. It’s particularly important to record in the diary any symptoms of palpitations, skipped heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain or lightheadedness. You’ll usually be given a form to help you record your activities and any symptoms.
Once your monitor is fitted and you’ve received instructions on how to wear it, you can resume your normal activities.