Ambulatory ECG (Holter)

Ambulatory ECG (Holter)

Heart rhythm abnormalities mean disturbance in the rate or rhythm of a person’s heartbeat. Arrhythmia monitoring refers to tests physicians use to identify the type and the cause of irregular heart rhythms. Many arrhythmias occur infrequently, so to record the heart’s electrical activity under real-world conditions, physicians use continuous monitor recording, also called ambulatory electrocardiography (Holter).

The patient wears portable ECG devices that record arrhythmic events while the patient is away from the physician’s office. Holter monitors are worn for 1 to 3 days while the patient goes about normal tasks. The device uses between 3 to 7 electrodes that are attached to the patient’s chest. Wires from the electrodes lead to a small battery-powered device that can be clipped onto a waistband or belt, or placed in a small carrying case and slung over a person’s shoulder. The device constantly monitors the heart and records the heart’s rhythms into the memory of the device.

Patients keep a diary of their activities, such as sleeping or eating, so that physicians can associate any arrhythmia with a specific activity. During Holter monitor testing, patients should avoid taking showers or baths and limit the use of small electrical devices, such as electric toothbrushes or razors.

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