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A Holter monitor is used for an ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG), which monitors the electrical activities of your heart for 24 or 48 hours while you go about your normal activities. Irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias, often occur on and off, and may not occur in the short timeframe of a regular EKG, which monitors about 40 to 50 heartbeats. Over 24 hours a Holter monitor records about 100,000 heartbeats, increasing the likelihood of recording an arrhythmia, particularly if it tends to occur under stress.

For this test, a technologist will attach electrodes to your chest. The electrodes will lead to a small monitor that you'll wear around your neck. You'll be asked to stay away from electronic equipment that may interfere with the monitor such as magnets, metal detectors, microwave ovens, and electric toothbrushes to ensure the accuracy of the recording. As you go about your regular routine for the next 24 or 48 hours, you'll be asked to keep a diary of your activities and in particular note any symptoms, such as chest pains, tightness, or shortness of breath, along with the activity at the time the symptom occurred. At the end of the 24 or 48-hour timeframe, you'll return to your doctor and the information recorded will be evaluated and cross-referenced with your activity diary.

 

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