A Holter monitor is a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for 24 hours or more. Its extended recording period is sometimes useful for observing occasional cardiac arrhythmias that would be difficult to identify in a shorter period of time. The Holter monitor records electrical signals from the heart via a series of electrodes attached to the chest. These electrodes are connected to a small piece of equipment that keeps a log of the heart's electrical activity throughout the recording period. The recording device can be worn on a belt or on a strap worn across the chest.
Patients are given a diary and asked to record any heart-related symptoms that they have along with the time displayed on the monitor and what they were doing at the time. They should also record any activity that may change their heart rate (such as going to bed, getting up in the morning and exercising), along with the time and whether they felt any symptoms related to the activity. The data is then uploaded into a computer where it is used by doctors and technicians to rapidly pinpoint problem areas in the vast amount of data recorded during the monitoring period.
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