A Holter monitor is a portable device capable of recording electrical activity related to the heart (as in the case of an ECG), and the brain (Electroencephalography) for a duration ranging from 24 hours to an extended period of 11 days (as seen in modern versions). The continuous monitoring of heart activity enables the concerned physician to study heart beat irregularities such as palpitations, arrhythmia etc thereby providing ample information to suggest the proper remedy or diagnosis to respective patients. Named after Dr. Norman J.Holter, the Holter Monitor consists of
- A tape recorder: responsible for monitoring heart activity and recording them in terms of electric signals for the entire period of usage. It can either be strapped to the chest by a shoulder strap or attached to a waist belt.
- Electrodes: either 3 or 8 electrodes are attached to the chest at one end and to the recorder at the other end via wires. The chest is initially cleansed with an alcohol solution in order to enable proper sticking of electrodes.
Conducting the Test
Once the Holter Monitor is properly attached to the patient, he or she is recommended to carry on with his or her daily routine. A diary is provided so that the one can note down a particular activity (cooking, walking the dog etc) or specific symptoms (such as dizziness, chest discomfort) with respect to the time. This enables correlating a given activity to the effect on the cardiological performance. Care should be taken to prevent contact with water for the entire duration. After 24 or 48 hrs, the apparatus is disconnected and sent to the laboratory along with the diary or log book of various activities.
Obtaining the Results
Multiple ECG strips are generated on paper from the tape recorder which is scanned by the technician. Computational techniques are used to generate the appropriate cardiographs so as to study the various rhythms of heart beats. If critical variations or irregularities are observed, patients are immediately informed. In cases of slow heart rate, patients are recommended pacemakers.
Is it SAFE to use?
The Holter Monitor is 100% safe and provides an easy and efficient diagnosis for cardiac related health problems. Certain patients might be sensitive to the electrode adhesive but serious allergic reactions have never been reported.