Holter: What Is This Examination About?

The recorder is a portable electrocardiogram to measure your heart rate throughout the day. In this article, you will learn what it is for and what you should know if you need to pass this test.
Holter: what is this test?

Taking an electrocardiogram on an outpatient basis, i.e. while a patient is carrying out their daily activities, is not entirely new. The idea of ​​the recorder was introduced in 1961 by a doctor named Norman J. Holter.

Due to its inventor, recording of heart rate for at least 24 hours is referred to as a recorder. Registration is done with a small device that a person wears attached to the body for a certain period of time.

What is the recorder for?

The recorder allows you to record heart activity in real time and during everyday activities. This is what makes it important and the potential it has for the diagnosis made by cardiologists.

As a rule, the recorder is ordered by a specialist cardiologist after taking a conventional electrocardiogram in the office. He plans such an examination if there are doubts or a pathology is suspected that can only be inferred from long-term data.

In addition, a long-term diary of heart activity can be recorded in three ways: continuous, intermittent and analytical:

  • Continuous: With a system similar to that used in an in-office electrocardiogram, the heartbeat is recorded on analog tape.
  • Intermittent: The entire twenty-four hours of recorder operation are not recorded, but predetermined periods.
  • Analytical: This is performed in real time, in which a constant electrocardiogram is made for each heartbeat that occurs during the test. The information is then digitized in semiconductor memory.
ECG printout
Holter monitoring may be ordered after an electrocardiogram is performed. It is a tool with great diagnostic potential used by cardiologists.

How is a holter made?

The examination does not cause pain in the patient. Basically, it connects electrodes to the patient’s chest in the form of patches that stick to the skin. They are not invasive and do not penetrate the body.

The patches are also connected by cables to a device that will record and save the information. It is a small device that fits in a pocket, it can also be attached to the shoulder, for example with a special harness.

The basic idea is that the patient should carry out all daily activities as normal. 24/7 registration allows you to understand what is happening in his heart during normal life activities. Therefore, the Holter should not be removed or disconnected from the body at all times established for testing.

Along with operating the device, the patient should also record his daily activities along with a schedule. This will allow the physician to relate the events recorded in the recorder to what the patient was doing at that particular point in time.

It is also important to note any symptoms that may appear during the holter test. If the patient has experienced any type of pain, shortness of breath or palpitations, it is important to record the symptom and the time.

After registration is complete, the patient returns to the cardiologist to remove the device and retrieve the information. In order to make a diagnosis, what was recorded by the recorder is compared with the notes of the patient.

Holter indications

A logical question then arises whether everyone who has had cardiovascular problems in the family, or is experiencing them himself, should undergo a Holter test? The answer is no. There are precise indications as to who will benefit from this specialized monitoring.

The recorder is usually ordered for people with arrhythmias. Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. The recorder can provide valuable information for people who experience fainting for no apparent reason.

Sometimes a cardiologist will ask for a Holter monitor after taking an EKG in the office. This first fundamental study may not have been conclusive. Sometimes a condition is suspected but was not detected in the short term during an EKG in the office.

In addition, there are heart conditions that increase the risk of arrhythmias in the near future, such as increasing the size of the heart. This condition, called myocardial hypertrophy, is regularly examined with a Holter.

ECG analysis
Not all patients with heart disease require a Holter monitor. However, it is often suggested in cases of arrhythmia.

Care during the procedure

The use of the Holter does not cause too much negative effects. Some irritation can only be registered in those areas of the skin where the electrodes are placed. After removing the patches, skin irritation disappears within a short time.

During the operation of the device, the patient must perform a number of nursing activities. They are minimal, but following them will avoid registry errors or possible complications.

While the device should be used in all daily activities, the person should not shower during the examination. For obvious reasons: do not get the electrodes wet. On the other hand, it is important to stay away from sources of magnetism and high voltage so as not to distort the result.

This includes microwave ovens, electric toothbrushes, and metal detectors.

If you need a Holter, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. The cardiologist will inform you about all the necessary activities that need to be taken care of. In turn, the lack of significant side effects is another reason not to be afraid.

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