While the Echocardiogram and the Electrocardiogram (EKG) are excellent tools for assessing the functioning heart and blood flow, Dr. Diego may also ask you to wear a device called a Holter Monitor (which is also called an ambulatory, or continuous EKG). This device is strapped to your chest, to allow the doctor to evaluate the heart and vascular flow over a period of time (usually one or two days). If a few days don’t yield enough data, the doctor may prescribe a wireless Holter monitor, which can be worn for weeks. The Holter monitor may be able to detect irregularities in your heart rhythm which are not happening all of the time.
The Holter monitor works like this: Small electrodes are attached to your skin. They lead to a small recording device which is carried in your pocket or in a small pouch around your neck. Dr. Diego may ask you to keep a diary of your activities and how you feel while wearing the monitor. The doctor may then compare your daily activities with the heart monitor, to see how various activities affect your heart. While you are wearing the Holter monitor, the doctor may ask you not to use an electric blanket; and to avoid high-voltage areas, large magnets, and metal detectors. You may want to take a shower or a bath before the Holter monitor is attached, as the device should be kept dry during the time you are wearing it.
The Holter Monitor can Help Assess any of the Following:
- Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeat)
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Palpitations of the Heart
- Ventricular Tachycardia (Accelerated Heart Rate)
- Condition of the Heart After a Heart Attack
- The Effects of a Certain Medication
- Bradycardia (Slow Heart Rate)
- Fainting or Dizzy Spells
The Holter monitor is a good diagnostic tool for patients whose symptoms come and go for no apparent reason. These intermittent symptoms can be difficult for the doctor to diagnose. If you wear a Holter monitor while exercising and sleeping, for instance, it may help the doctor determine what might be causing the stress on your heart.