A Holter monitor is a wearable device that records the heart's electrical signals. You can think of it as a wearable EKG monitor. A standard Holter monitor records continuously for 24-48 hours, depending on the device. Wireless Holter monitors can record for longer periods. The main reason to use a Holter monitor is that it gives a longer record of the heart's activity than a standard EKG. Arrhythmias may occur only occasionally, so the longer record is more likely to record them.
Bathe before your visit to get a Holter monitor. Standard Holter monitors cannot be removed until the 24 or 48 hours is over, and they can be damaged if wet. Some wireless units are water-resistant, so you may be given different instructions about bathing. Do not wear creams or oils if you are getting a Holter monitor. If you are hairy, the technician may need to shave part of your chest.
For a standard Holter monitor, the technician will attach four electrodes to your chest. The wires go to a small recorder that can be worn on a belt, in a pocket, or on a lanyard. For a wireless Holter monitor, they will attach a single patch. You'll be given a small diary to record when you have symptoms, and what you were doing at the time. (Some of the wireless monitors allow you to press a button when you feel a symptom and record what you were feeling in a diary or a phone app) Symptoms include shortness of breath, light-headedness, palpitations, nausea, or sweating. Keep the monitor on even during sleep. For Holter monitors with wires, wearing a t-shirt to bed may help keep you from getting tangled up. You can continue normal activities, including exercise, while wearing your monitor, although too much sweating can make the leads come off.
The Holter monitor is noninvasive, and there are no risks associated. Sometimes the sticky patches that are used to attach the electrodes or patch to your skin can cause a bit of irritation. After you remove it, hydrocortisone cream can help with the irritation. Baby oil is a good way to remove the remaining bits of adhesive from your skin.
After the prescribed time is up, follow the directions you were given to return your Holter monitor to your doctor or hospital. After they analyze the record on the monitor and in your diary, they will talk with you about any abnormalities that they found.
Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 7). Holter monitor. Holter monitor - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/holter-monitor/about/pac-20385039