Like an electrocardiogram, a Holter monitor also uses electrodes to measure the heart’s electrical activity. This small, portable battery-powered monitor (the size of a pager) is worn for longer than a standard ECG and also uses fewer electrodes. The reason your doctor may have ordered this test is to monitor your heart for symptoms that may be intermittent and not happen during a standard ECG.
Symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath that may not occur during the course of an ECG have a better chance of being recorded when the monitor is worn for a longer period of time.
The team at Vector Diagnostics will be looking for arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) that may be related to your symptoms, and will report back to your doctor. Typically you will wear the monitor for 24 hours, but your doctor may request for it to be worn for 48 or 72 hours in rare cases. While wearing your Holter monitor, you are encouraged to participate in all of your regular sports and activities unless your doctor says it is unsafe to do so. The only thing that is not permitted during this test is swimming, bathing, showering or anything that could potentially get the monitor wet. Heating pads and blankets will also interfere with the signal so cannot be used near the monitor while it is being worn.
During the test, you will be asked to fill out a diary detailing your changes in activity throughout the day. You will need to record when you go to sleep, when you wake up, eat meals, take your medications and any changes of activity such as exercising. Although this test is painless, should you experience any cardiac symptoms during the course of the test, these must also be written in your diary, along with the activity and exact time they were experienced.
Your initial appointment to hook up the monitor takes about 15 minutes. Your technologist will instruct you how to record your symptoms in the diary, how to care for the monitor and how to unhook and return it. After 24 hours, you will be able to unhook the monitor yourself and return it to Vector Diagnostics at the time written on your diary. Another patient will be booked for the monitor at this time, so it is important that it is returned promptly. When returning the monitor, you do not need to wait for assistance. There is a drop-box conveniently located in the reception area where you can drop it off during business hours. Please remember to also include your diary!
Before your appointment, please ensure that you are freshly bathed and have not use any oils or lotions on your skin. For men with chest hair, some areas may be need to be shaved on your chest for the electrodes to stick, so feel free to groom your own chest hair before your appointment time.
Many different medications can affect the results of this test, so be sure to bring your medication list for the technologist to review as well as your Care Card with PHN (Personal Health Number). Our services are covered by the Medical Services Plan with exception of pre-employment testing, aviation medicals, no coverage and WCB.