Holter Recording

Written by Norene Anderson
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Proper function of the heart depends on electrical impulses responding to the sinus node or pacemaker of the heart. The sinus node rules the four chambers of the heart's contraction and relaxation, which forms a heartbeat. The electrical activity is carried to the muscle stimulating the action known as a sinus (rhythmic) heartbeat. When this regularity is interrupted, some type of heart disease may be encountered.

An EKG (electrocardiogram) is a quick, painless test to record the electrical function of the heart. It identifies the shape, sequence, and duration of the electrical impulses from a series of beats or from one heartbeat. It can indicate conditions that can be damaging to the heart by impaired blood flow or other arrhythmias and irregularities. Diabetes, coronary artery disease, valve disorders, and other heart disease can cause irregularities in the electrical system of the heart.

Holter Recordings Identify Symptoms

Sometimes a patient experiences symptoms during routine daily activities that do not show on an EKG performed in the doctor's office. Dizziness and syncope (fainting) may occur sporadically with no such response during the office visit. A portable EKG known as a Holter recording is often ordered to capture the episode. The electrodes are attached to a portable device about the size of a small cassette recorder.

Devices similar to a Holter recording are used for longer periods on individuals with symptoms manifesting infrequently. These devices with a memory loop recorder can be worn for several weeks if necessary to capture the irregularity. When the symptoms are identified, a button is pushed and the device will record the previous minute leading up to the episode. The ability to observe the activity of the heart away from the confines of a hospital or physician's office provides the information needed to diagnose and effectively treat many otherwise damaging heart irregularities.

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