Holter Monitors

Written by Norene Anderson
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Holter monitors are used on children and adults. It is particularly helpful in pediatric cardiology since young children are not able to describe many of the sensations that adults feel when there is a problem. If a child has been diagnosed with some type of cardiac arrhythmia, the use of a Holter monitor may be used to determine the extent of the arrhythmia and to identify any other abnormalities in the electrical function of the heart.

The Holter monitor was invented by Dr. Norman Holter to record the rhythm and rate of the heart continuously for 24 hours. It consists of a small cassette-type recorder connected to electrodes on the chest by special wires. The wires transport the electrical activity of the heart and it is transferred via the tape to an ECG printout for the cardiologist to review.

Adult and Child Holter Monitors

An adult will be asked to keep a diary of activities and to mark the time of a known cardiac event such as prolonged palpitations or shortness of breath. A child may not be able to keep the diary, so the parent should monitor the child and if he or she indicates a problem, make a note of it in the diary. This helps the one reviewing the ECG strip to know where to look for specific episodes. The recording calculates the number of beats and the type and length of any arrhythmias.

It is best to maintain a regular schedule of activities during the 24-hour period. Some Holter monitors are designed to record only arrhythmias that cause symptoms. Either way, the technician will give specific instructions about how to identify symptoms and activities in relation to the way the information is recorded on the monitor. Compliance is essential to getting the best reading of the activities of the heart.


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