A Holter monitor is, in essence, a portable EKG that monitors the electrical activity of the heart when the patient is not at their doctor’s office. A standard EKG offers the physician a snapshot of the heart’s electrical activity at any given point in time, but it only records this activity for about 5 minutes at a time. Therefore, occasional or paroxysmal arrhythmias are often undetected.
The Holter monitor can be used for 24 hours at a time, or even longer if needed, and the data it collects can be used by our office to detect or understand more about the arrhythmia.
The Holter monitor does not require any intervention, cutting or surgery. Small electrodes are placed on the chest and connected to an external EKG that is carried around, much like a portable music device. Patients do not have to perform any special activities but will be asked to keep a journal of their activities while wearing the monitor. This helps our electrophysiologists understand the circumstances during which an arrhythmia may occur.
The Holter monitor has no serious risks whatsoever, as it is completely noninvasive. The data that a Holter monitor can provide is far more detailed than a standard EKG and can be the catalyst for diagnosing an arrhythmia. Holter monitors can also be used to determine whether a procedure or a device is working as intended. Unexplained fainting, known as syncope, or unexplained chest pain can also be better understood with a Holter monitor.