A Holter monitor is a continuous tape recording of a patient's electrocardiogram (ECG) for 24 hours. Since it can be worn during the patient's regular daily activities, it helps the physician correlate symptoms of dizziness, palpitations (a sensation of fast or irregular heart rhythm) or black outs. Since the recording covers 24 hours on a continuous basis, Holter monitoring is much more likely to detect an abnormal heart rhythm when compared to the ECG which lasts less than a minute.
Please come to the Holter lab on the 3rd floor of the Harkness Pavilion, 180 Fort Washington Ave (we are across the street from the Milstein Hospital). The only requirement is that you wear loose-fitting clothes. A button-down shirt/blouse is preferable. This makes it convenient to apply the ECG electrodes, and also comfortably carry the monitor in a relatively discreet manner
During the test
The chest is cleansed with an alcohol solution to ensure good attachment of the sticky ECG electrodes. Men with hairy chest may require small areas to be shaved. The ECG electrodes (circular white patches on the left) are applied to the chest. Thin wires are then used to connect the electrodes to a small tape recorder. The tape recorder is secured to the patient's belt or it can be slung over the shoulder and neck with the use of a disposable pouch. The recorder is worn for 24 hours and you are encouraged to continue your daily activities. To avoid getting the setup wet and damaging the recorder, you will not be able to shower for the duration of the test. A diary or log is provided so that you can record activity (walking the dog, upset at something, etc.) and symptoms (skipped heartbeats, chest discomfort, dizziness, etc.) together with the time. The Holter monitor has an internal clock so that the heart rhythm can be correlated with symptoms or complaints. After 24 hours, the Holter monitor needs to be returned to the laboratory. This can be removed by the staff. However, if you live out of town or need to take a shower before leaving the house, the monitor can be disconnected from the electrodes and sent back to the laboratory, together with the completed diary.