Holter: what does it consist of?
Performing an electrocardiogram on an outpatient basis, that is, with the patient performing their daily activities, is not something completely new. The idea of the holter was introduced in 1961 by Norman J. Holter.
Because of its inventor, holter is called cardiac activity log for at least twenty four hours. This registration is done through a small device that the person has attached to his body for the stipulated time.
What is the holter for?
The holter allows to record the activity of the heart in real time and during the realization of the activities of daily life. Therein lies its importance and the potential it has for the diagnosis that cardiologists make.
In general, the holter It is requested by the specialist once a conventional electrocardiogram has been performed In the office. If there are any doubts or if a pathology that can only be inferred through a long-term record is suspected, the test is scheduled.
The long-term cardiac activity record can be recorded in three ways: continuous, intermittent and analytical:
- Keep going: With a system similar to the one used by the office electrocardiogram, it records the beats on an analog tape.
- Intermittent: The full twenty-four hours of the holter are not recorded, but pre-established periods in advance.
- Analytics: It is in real time and performs a constant electrocardiogram for each beat that occurs during the duration of the study. The information is digitized in solid state memories.
The holter can be requested after an electrocardiogram. It is a tool with a lot of potential for diagnosis by cardiologists.
How is a holter made?
The test does not represent any pain for the patient. Basically It consists of connecting electrodes to the patient's chest in the form of patches that stick to the skin. They are not invasive and do not penetrate into the body.
The patches are connected by cables to the device that will record and save the information. It is a small device that can fit in a pocket or be attached to the arm, for example, with a support for this purpose.
The fundamental idea is that the patient performs all daily activities in a normal way, to understand what happens in your heart while everyday life goes by. You should not remove the holter or disconnect it from your body for as long as it has been established for the study.
Along with the operation of the device, the patient should record their daily activities with the schedule. This will allow the doctor to relate the events recorded in the holter with what the patient has been doing at that precise moment.
It is also important to register symptoms that could manifest during the performance of the holter. If you suffered any pain, shortness of breath or palpitations, it is essential that the schedule be noted.
Once the registration period is over, the patient returns with his cardiologist to remove the device and download the information. The holter record and patient activities are compared to arrive at a diagnosis.
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Before the logical question about whether all people with a history or heart problems should have a holter, the answer is no. There are precise indications about who benefits from the practice.
People with arrhythmias, in general, require study. Arrhythmia is an irregular rhythm of the heartbeat. Also those who have suffered a faint without apparent cause can benefit from the holter.
Sometimes the cardiologist requests a holter after performing an electrocardiogram in the office. That first basic study may not have been conclusive, or some condition is suspected that was not detected in the short period of the electrocardiogram in the office.
There are heart diseases that increase the risk of arrhythmias in the near future, such as the increase in heart size. This condition, which is called cardiac hypertrophy, is regularly studied with holter.
Not all patients with heart disease require a holter. It is often suggested in cases of arrhythmias.
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Care during the procedure
Using the holter does not produce major adverse effects. Single some irritation can be registered in the areas of the skin where the electrodes are placed. Once the patches are removed, the irritation disappears soon after.
While the device is running, There is a series of care that the patient should have. They are minimal, but compliance with them will avoid errors in the registry or possible complications.
While the device should be used in all activities of daily life, the person should not shower. On the other hand, it is important to move away from sources of magnetism and high voltage so as not to alter the result. This involves microwaves, electric toothbrushes and metal detectors.
If you have to have a holter, it shouldn't be a cause for concern. The care that should be taken will be informed by the cardiologist, and the lack of significant adverse effects is another reason not to fear.