What is a Holter Monitor?
A Holter monitor allows the physician to review the patient's heart rate and rhythm for a prolonged period of time, usually 24 hours.
What are some reasons for using a Holter Monitor?
There are many reasons the doctor may have ordered this test.
- Patient is experiencing palpitations, “pounding” in the chest, or feels like his heart is “racing.”
- Irregular or early heart beats noted on physical examination.
- Patient is on medications that may cause arrhythmias (an abnormal heart pattern).
How is the test performed?
A technologist will place several electrodes (sticky patches) over the chest. These electrodes will be attached to wires that connect to a small tape recorder approximately six inches long, three inches wide and one inch thick. Inside is a battery and cassette tape that will continuously record your child's heart activity.
What do I need to do while my child is wearing the monitor?
The test will last 12 or 24 hours. While wearing the monitor try to follow normal routines including school and exercise. The only limitation on your child's activity (unless instructed otherwise by the physician) is that the monitor cannot get wet i.e. no showers, but careful sponge bathing is allowed. You will be given a diary sheet to record daily activity, as well as any symptoms your child may feel. It is important to check throughout the day to be sure none of the electrodes have fallen off. If the child has any dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fast or slow heartbeat, or any other symptoms, PUSH the button on the end of the recorder ONCE. This will place a mark on the tape for the cardiologist to see.
How will I be informed of the test results?
After you have returned the monitor and diary sheet, a technologist will then scan the tape and generate a report for the pediatric cardiologist who will then interpret the test. You will receive the results from the doctor who ordered the test, usually either your pediatrician or a pediatric cardiologist. It generally takes three to five working days.
An alternative to the Holter Monitor is the Transtelephonic Event Recorder. This is a small computer that the child can carry for up to one month that is placed on the child's chest when symptoms surface. The monitor will record the electrical activity within the heart and the tracing can then be sent to the office over a regular home telephone. It is used in place of a Holter Monitor to capture cardiac events that occur too infrequently to be picked up in a 24-hour period.