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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A Holter monitor is also called a portable electrocardiography (EKG) monitor. It shows your heart's electrical activity while you do your usual activities. The monitor is a small battery-operated device that you wear. It will show how fast your heart beats and if it beats in a regular pattern.
How to wear a Holter monitor:
- Sticky pads are placed on certain areas of your chest. Three to 8 sticky pads may be used. Healthcare providers may tape the electrodes to your skin to keep them in place. Wear loose-fitting clothes with your monitor so you can move freely.
- The electrodes will be plugged into the monitor. The monitor will be turned on and will record electrical signals constantly for 24 to 48 hours. You may need to use your monitor for up to 7 days. The monitor will be put in a pouch for you to carry.
Keep a log:
List any symptoms you have while you wear the monitor. Write down the time and what you were doing when the symptoms started. List when you take any medicines or drink any alcohol. Take this log with you when you see your healthcare provider. The log may help him learn what is causing your abnormal heart activity. The following are some examples of symptoms to write down in the log:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Dizziness or fainting
- Irregular heartbeats, such as a fluttery feeling in your chest
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Strong, pounding heartbeats
Do not get your chest wet:
Your sticky pads may fall off if they get wet. The monitor cannot record your heart rhythm without the sticky pads and electrodes in place. Do not take a shower while you wear the Holter monitor. Take sponge baths instead.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or cardiologist in 24 to 48 hours:
You will need to return to have the sticky pads and monitor removed. Bring your log with you. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- The sticky pads or electrodes come off your chest.
- Your monitor stops working.
- You have a headache, dizziness, or feel like you are going to faint.
- You have a rash on your skin under the sticky pads.
- You have questions or concerns about the Holter monitor, your condition, or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You are pale and have cold, sweaty skin.
- You have a heavy or squeezing feeling in your chest that lasts longer than a few minutes.
- You have pain in your chest that spreads to your shoulders, neck, or arms.
- You have trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.