The Holter monitor is a battery-operated, portable device that records your heart rhythm continuously for 24 to 48 hours. It allows your doctor to monitor your heart and see how it responds to normal activity during a typical day. It is used to diagnose heart rhythm problems, to monitor your heart's health after a heart attack or to gauge your heart's reaction to new medication.
How a Holter Monitor Works
Small sticky patches (electrodes) are attached to your chest and connected to wires from a small monitor. The monitor is placed in a pocket or a small pouch during the entire recording period.
Your doctor will ask you to keep a diary of your activity during the monitoring period so your heartbeat patterns can be matched with different activities. After 24 to 48 hours, you will return the monitor to your doctor's office, where the recordings can be analyzed for any irregularities.
The Meaning of Your Results
Your results are considered normal if your heart rate falls within the normal range for each of the recorded activities. Abnormal results could indicate an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), an epileptic event or that your heart is not getting enough oxygen. The monitor may also detect a conduction block, a condition in which the electrical impulses from the atria are either delayed or do not continue into the ventricles.
Doctors at Houston Methodist work with each individual patient to ensure that a Holter monitor, as well as any other diagnostic tool, is used to the best advantage to discover any potential disorders.