One of the limitations of an EKG is that it only shows us a few seconds of your heart beat. In some circumstances, a longer sample is needed and so a monitor can be worn or taken home to give us more information.
A holter monitor (sometimes called a 24-hour holter monitor) is very similar to the EKG you had in the office only you wear it home for a full day.
- It’s very small (so no one will know that you have it on)
- It’s connected to you with 5 stickers and wires (the same ones as the EKG)
- It records every heartbeat you have for 24 hours
- It lets the doctor determine if any abnormal rhythms are causing your symptoms
A holter monitor is great at diagnosing abnormal rhythms that occur while you are wearing it but if you don’t have symptoms during that time, it may be falsely normal. In that case your doctor may give you an event recorder…
- Unlike the holter monitor, you don’t wear it all the time
- There are no stickers and wires to put on
- You just hold it up to your heart when you are having symptoms
- The results are recorded digitally and sent to us over the phone
Some people have symptoms that don’t occur every day AND only last for a few seconds, making it impossible to get the event recorder quick enough to catch the symptoms. In these circumstances, your doctor might choose to give you a loop recorder…
- It’s a combination of the holter monitor and event recorder
- You wear it all the time so it will be there when you need it
- It constantly records and erases your heart rhythm
- When you feel an abnormal rhythm, you hit a button that tells the monitor to save the previous few seconds of recordings that contain the funny beats