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Holter Monitor Test

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What is a Holter Monitor test?

Also known as ambulatory electrocardiogram (ECG), the Holter monitor test is an extremely useful test that reveals important information about your heart’s condition. This involves continuous evaluation of your heart as you go about your normal activities. Therefore it is required that you wear the device continuously for 24 to 48 hours, as advised, by your doctor. This device consists of electrodes that are placed on the chest and are connected to a recorder. The recorder runs on battery.

Why is it conducted?

This test comes in useful when your ECG may be normal but you may have symptoms of irregular heartbeats or other symptoms that indicate heart disease. It helps to correlate abnormal heart rhythms accurately with the activities that cause them. Since it monitors your heart’s electrical activity continuously, it reveals detailed information of any occasional symptoms which may otherwise remain undetected. It also helps to detect whether the heart is getting adequate oxygen.

Who should go for it?

Persons who have symptoms of heart palpitations, racing heart, fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness that point towards possible disturbances in the functioning of the heart.

Persons whose symptoms of irregular heartbeats or chest pain come and go. It is especially helpful in those cases where the patient may be fine at the time of examination or have a normal ECG.

People who are taking medicines for their heart condition may be advised the Holter monitor test to gauge the effectiveness of the treatment.

Persons who have been fitted with a pacemaker, but may be experiencing symptoms like dizziness.


Electrodes that sense your heartbeats are attached to the chest with an adhesive and the wires connected to the recorder. This recorder may be worn round the neck, kept in a pocket or attached to a belt. Along with this, a diary is given to maintain record of your activities, especially at the time of any abnormal heartbeat or any other symptom such as dizziness.

For the test to be truly accurate make sure you take the necessary precautions.

It is essential that the electrodes stick well and that they do not get wet. Therefore, one should not have a bath, shower or a swim during this test.

Besides this, the Holter monitor cannot be taken off even for a short while during the period of the test. This means that it has to be worn even when sleeping.

Since this is an electrical gadget, it is better to avoid metal detectors as they can interfere with the quality of the signals.

Additionally, you cannot have X-rays when wearing a Holter Monitor.

For the results to be meaningful it is necessary that you maintain diligent and accurate record of all the activities when fitted with the monitor.

Interpretation of results  

Once the specified time is over, the monitor is removed and analyzed by the technician or the doctor with the help of software. The results can be considered normal if there are no remarkable changes in heart rhythms as you go about your daily activities. Any irregularities are closely matched with the activity log maintained by the patient. This helps the doctor to decide the future course of treatment and pinpoint irregularities in the electrical activity of the heart.  In all, this is a painless test which poses no risks for the patient. However, it is essential for diagnosing problems in heart rhythms.

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Written by: Nandita tripati

Date last updated: January 10, 2015