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Holter monitor

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Electrocardiogram of a normal heart rhythm

Alternative Names
electrocardiography, ambulatory, ambulatory electrocardiography

Holter monitoring is continuous recording of the electrical activity of the heart.

Who is a candidate for the test?
The test is usually done on a person who has had an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. It can also be used to observe the effects of heart medications. It is used to monitor heart activity after a heart attack.

How is the test performed?
A Holter monitor is a portable electrocardiogram device. It continually records a person's heart activity. The monitor is worn during a day and night of normal activities. To perform the test, small electrodes from the monitor are attached to the chest. The person carries the device in a pocket or a pouch. The individual also keeps a diary of activities and symptoms during the monitoring period. When the 24-hour heart recording and diary are complete, the doctor will compare the events of the day to the heart's activities. The doctor will try to match abnormalities on the heart recording with entries in the diary. Computers are also used to look for heartbeat irregularities in the recording.

What is involved in preparation for the test?
A person having this test should receive instructions from a doctor on how to properly prepare for the test.

What do the test results mean?
Abnormal results show irregular heart rhythms. By comparing the diary entries with the heart record, the doctor may be able to determine the cause of the arrhythmias. For example, if the rhythm disturbances are connected with stressful events, there may be an emotional basis for the arrhythmias that can be treated with stress management. Examining the diary along with the Holter monitor results can also suggest various physical reasons for the arrhythmias.

Author: David T. Moran, MD
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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