Sign Up Now For
HEALTHbeat
Our FREE E-mail Newsletter

In each issue of HEALTHbeat:

  • Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School
  • Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health
  • Receive special offers on health books and reports
  • Plus, receive your FREE Bonus Report, Living to 100: What's the secret?

[ Maybe Later ] [ No Thanks ]

Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
Learn How

New Releases

You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Holter Monitor

View other tests


What is the test?

A Holter monitor is a portable EKG device that records your heart rhythm over time, outside the hospital or doctor's office.Whereas a regular EKG examines your heart's electrical activity for a few minutes, the Holter monitor examines changes over a sustained period of time-usually a 24- to 48-hour period-while you go about your daily activities and even while you sleep. Doctors use it to evaluate symptoms that come and go and that might be related to heart-rhythm changes.

Back to top >


How do I prepare for the test?

Men with a lot of hair on their chest will probably have to shave it. Otherwise, there's no special preparation.

Back to top >


What happens when the test is performed?

A technician in your doctor's office or a diagnostic lab fits you with a Holter monitor and explains how to use it. Five stickers are attached to your chest.Wires snap onto each of these stickers and connect them to the monitor. The wires detect your heart's electrical pattern throughout the day, while the monitor records and stores the data for doctors to interpret later. You can fit the monitor into a purse or jacket pocket or wear it over your shoulder by its strap.

You can go about your normal activities with two exceptions. First, you can't take a shower or bath during the period that you're wearing the monitor. Second, you are given a small diary in which to note any worrisome symptoms you feel and record the time when they occur. The doctor will later review both your diary and the data about your heart's activity from the monitor, to see if any symptoms you experienced were caused by some underlying heart problem. There are no side effects from the testing.

Back to top >


What risks are there from the test?

There are no risks.

Back to top >


Must I do anything special after the test is over?

You need only return the Holter monitor.

Back to top >


How long is it before the result of the test is known?

It usually takes a few days for your recording to be printed out and examined.

Back to top >


View other tests