What should I do while wearing a Holter monitor?

James C. Ong, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Learn how this type of ambulatory monitor records data about your heart for up to 30 days. Watch this video with cardiologist James Ong, MD from West Hills Hospital & Medical Center.
Andrea C. Bryan, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
While wearing a Holter monitor, you should perform all of your normal daily activities. It is important to keep a diary of your symptoms while wearing the monitor. This way, your physician can correlate your symptoms with the corresponding electrical activity of your heart.

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The Holter monitor works automatically, but you will need to avoid anything that would interfere with the signal it records. You will also need to note information about your symptoms.

Keep the electrodes, wires, and recorder from getting wet. Don’t swim, take a bath, or shower while wearing the Holter monitor. If you use a washcloth, avoid your chest.

Follow your doctor’s directions about activity. Your doctor may tell you to adjust your exercise level during the time you wear the monitor. If you exercise, do it in a cool location to avoid sweating too much. Too much moisture can loosen the connection between the electrodes and your skin.

If you have a symptom, press the event button, stop what you’re doing, and write the symptom down. If you faint, feel dizzy, or feel anything unusual with your heart, stop what you’re doing. This helps to keep your movements from jarring the electrodes. Then write down the time and describe the symptom in the diary you were given. It is important to make sure your doctor can compare the heart rhythm recording with your symptoms.

As directed by your doctor, record other information in the diary. You may want to record medication you take (the time and the dose), times you feel stress, or periods of exercise.

Avoid items that can interfere with the monitor’s signal. Because the Holter monitor is a piece of electrical equipment, it can be affected by magnets, electronic devices, and high-voltage electricity. These include:
  • Metal detectors. Walk at a normal pace through the detector.
  • High-voltage electricity and powerful magnets. Stay away from high-voltage lines if you can.
  • Electric blankets, toothbrushes, and razors. Avoid using these while you’re wearing the Holter monitor.
  • MP3 players and cell phones. If your MP3 player or cell phone is on, keep it at least 6 inches away from your chest.
Please do not tamper with the recorder, electrodes, batteries, or wires. If you do, the test may need to be repeated, resulting in additional charges to you. If one of the electrodes becomes loose, call the testing center immediately.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.