If you’ve ever fainted suddenly or had an irregular heartbeat, you know how scary these events can be. They could be isolated episodes, or they could be signs of an underlying condition in your heart. But what do you do when nothing shows up in tests at your appointment? The answer is simple—you wear a Holter monitor.
At Cardiovascular Institute of America, our team, led by Muthu Velusamy, MD, FACC, ABVM, can help when you suspect something’s wrong with your heart. Dr. Velusamy specializes in all types of cardiac conditions and gets you the treatment you need once you’ve been diagnosed. Here’s a look at how a Holter monitor works, its benefits, and when you may need one.
What is a Holter monitor?
There are many types of diagnostic tests and exams that help Dr. Velusamy determine what’s going on with your heart. Sometimes, though, these tests don’t quite get to the bottom of the problem. This is where a Holter monitor comes into play.
A Holter monitor is a device that you wear for a few days while it records your heart rhythm. Unlike an electrocardiogram (ECG) which only shows a snippet of your heart rhythm, the Holter monitor continuously records your heart activity for a few days. This allows Dr. Velusamy to see any issues that weren’t picked up on other tests.
The monitor is completely painless and involves several electrodes that are attached to your chest. These electrodes connect to a small device that you wear under your clothes. The monitor can be hidden, so you can continue your normal activities while wearing it.
However, there are some precautions to take because the monitor can’t get wet. You shouldn’t take a bath or go swimming while wearing the device. There are other things you’ll want to avoid as well, as they can interrupt the signal to the monitor, which include:
- Metal detectors
- Electric blankets
- Microwave ovens
Other devices, such as your cell phone or computer, may also have an impact on the monitor. To avoid this, try to keep these devices at least six inches away from the monitor.
When do you need a Holter monitor?
Holter monitors are often used when you’ve been showing certain signs of heart trouble, but your ECG is unremarkable. Chest pain is probably the most common sign you think of when you hear “heart trouble,” but there is actually a slew of other symptoms that are also indicators of a problem, including:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, either with or without chest pain, Dr. Velusamy recommends a Holter monitor to record your heart rhythm. The monitor not only records each and every heartbeat but also gives Dr. Velusamy more information on what could be causing the episodes.
Understanding the benefits
There are a lot of benefits to this type of diagnostic study, and understanding them helps you feel more comfortable with wearing the monitor.
One of the best benefits of this device is that it’s non-invasive, meaning there are no incisions or breaks in your skin. The monitor is simply attached by sticky electrodes and is easily taken off when you’re finished.
Another benefit is that the monitor shows every heartbeat for as long as it’s worn on your body. This allows Dr. Velusamy to see any tiny little blip in your heart rhythm, which could be the cause of your symptoms.
There aren’t any significant risks in wearing a Holter monitor, which is very beneficial to you and your body. Many other tests may involve a certain amount of risks, where this device is extremely safe to wear. The only thing that could bother you is the adhesive on the electrodes, however, the irritation should be short-lived.
Probably the best thing about the Holter monitor is that you get to go about your normal life while you’re wearing it. While many other types of testing require you to be at the office or in the hospital, the Holter monitor allows you the freedom to run errands, watch your favorite show, or take your dog for a walk.
If you're experiencing heart issues, make an appointment with Dr. Velusamy at our office at Tampa and Lutz, Florida. You can either call our office or request an appointment online.