Holter Recording

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What Is A Holter Recording?

A holter recording is sometimes called an ambulatory heart rate monitor.

It records the heart rate over a longer period of time as compared to an ECG, usually between 24 hours and 72 hours.

It is useful in recording the heart rhythm in patients who are experiencing symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness or breathlessness at various times of the day.

How Is It Performed?

The test is simple.

You will be asked to attend your doctor’s clinic to have the device fitted. The device is a small recorder that is strapped around the chest or abdomen.

To this are attached leads (wires) that are attached at different points on the chest with the help of small stickers. Once switched on, the device records the heart rate over the required time. It takes around 10-15 minutes to fit the device on.

The image below should make it a bit clearer.

holter recording of the heart
Appearance of a holter monitor. The position of the leads may vary from this image.

It is advised not to have a shower or bath during the time when wearing the device, as water can ruin the device. It can be worn when asleep.

Once the 24-72 hour period has passed, you will be asked to return the device. The data on the device will then be analysed and results viewed by your doctor.

What Information Does It Provide?

The information it provides is similar to the ECG, but does have a few differences.

The recording gives the doctor information regarding the heart rate over an entire day rather than at just one point in time.

This means it can provide information if the heart is beating too fast or too slow at different times of the day. It does not always look at different parts of the heart like the ECG does, and may not useful in diagnosing heart attacks.

You will be asked to make a note of any symptoms you may experience during the recording period. You may also be advised to perform activities that bring on the symptoms normally.

As with the ECG, the test is painless and provides a lot of information.

It informs the doctor regarding the patients variation in the heart rate during the day and at night and will indicate whether the symptoms that they are experiencing is due to the heart rate or not.

For example, some patients may experience dizziness or light-headedness and the holter may reveal an irregular heart rhythm at the time.

Of course, there may be instances where the heart rate may be completely normal when the patient is experiencing symptoms in which case other causes may need to be looked into.

Closing Remarks

If you have noticed a thumping sensation in the chest or find that your heart is beating very fast, then you require a holter recording test. Speak to your doctor for more information.

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