A Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that records your heart activity for typically 24 to 72 hours and up to seven to 14 days. The device is small and light-weight and hangs around your neck connecting cable to sensors attached to your chest. A Holter monitor captures all your heart activity throughout the day and while your sleep. This allows a physician to determine if there are intermittent abnormalities to your heart rhythm over an extended period of time. The test is safe and painless.
When it Test Ordered?
Your healthcare provider may recommend a Holter monitor test to detect possible heart-related problems if you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
How is Test Done?
A Holter monitor is set up at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre. When you arrive for your appointment, the lab assistant will ask you a few health-related questions (height, weight, medications, symptoms, reason for the testing, if you have had this test performed before and whether you have a pacemaker) and ask you to remove your shirt so disposable sensors can be attached to your chest. A lab assistant will then:
- Rub alcohol in the area of your chest where the sensors are to be attached.
- If necessary, shave any chest hair in the area a sensor will need to be attached
- Attach the sensors and then hook cables to the monitor and the sensors. Some patients may experience slight irritation or marking where the sensors are attached.
- Provide you with any specific instructions to ensure accurate testing.
The monitor is a little larger than a cell phone and will allow you to continue with your normal daily activity. Unless instructed otherwise, you must wear the monitor from the time it is connected until it is removed by LifeLabs. While you are wearing the monitor, it cannot get wet.
After the testing period, you will return to LifeLabs and have the monitor removed. The recordings will then be transmitted to a physician for reading with the findings forwarded to your healthcare provider.
How Long Does it Take?
There are three main components of Holter monitor testing:
- Placement of sensors: 30 minutes
- Wearing of the monitor: minimum 24-hours or as directed by your physician
- Removal of sensors: 15 minutes
You must wear the monitor from the time it is connected until it is removed by LifeLabs.
How to Prepare for Test?
Very little preparation is needed to prepare for a Holter monitor. On the day of the test, we ask that you:
- Shower or bathe just before your appointment. Unless directed otherwise, you will not be permitted to bathe while wearing the monitor.
- Do not use talcums, lotions, moisturizers, or perfumes prior to the appointment or while wearing the monitor.
- Wear a comfortable outfit that opens in the front, such as a loose, buttoned shirt. You cannot wear a full slip to the appointment or while wearing the monitor. You may wear a bra, but you will be required to leave it on throughout the duration of the test so as not to disturb the sensors.
- Bring a list of all currently prescribed medication and herbal remedies.
- If you have a pacemaker, bring your Pacemaker Card with the latest setting.
Understanding Your Results
Interpretation of Holter monitor readings is done by a physician and the report will be forwarded to your healthcare provider within 3-5 working days. It’s important for you to discuss your results directly with your healthcare provider as they will recommend whether additional testing or care is required.