Analyzing how the heart functions Analyzing how the heart functions

Analyzing how the heart functions

Special 2 December, 2016 Ana María López de Mesa

Measuring the electric activity of the heart in detail and in just a few hours is possible with the Holter monitor, a device that patients wear on their bodies while they go through their daily activities over a 24-hour period, recording data to be later interpreted by a doctor. 

The Revista Colombiana de Cardiología (Colombian Cardiology Journal), published by the Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery Society in Colombia, explains that it is helpful to request this type of test from your doctor if you are experiencing heart-related abnormalities or if you suspect you may have one of the following diseases:

  • Repeated fainting spells (syncope): While an isolated fainting spell is not a reason for concern, when they are repeated, spontaneous and if you think they may be heart-related, a Holter monitor may help you discover what type of heart problem you have.
  • Heart palpitations: The feeling that your heart is beating faster than usual, or the sensation of heartbeats in your neck may be signs of heart arrhythmia in people from certain age groups. If the feeling is intermittent, a Holter monitor can help identify abnormalities throughout the day.
  • After a heart attack: Depending on the characteristics of the heart attack (extent, seriousness, damage to electrical pathways, etc.), a Holter monitor can detect electrical abnormalities that could be fatal.
  • Arrhythmia tests: While cardiac arrhythmia can be detected, a test can help identify the causes that trigger it, its duration and can classify it into different types (supraventricular tachycardia, heart block, and atrial fibrillation, among others).
  • Cardiomyopathy tests: Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle caused by reasons other than heart attacks or arrhythmias. They can, however, cause arrhythmia. Holter monitors can identify them, even when symptoms are not apparent.
  • Monitor your treatment with medication: Many cardiological pharmaceutical treatments require that their effects on the heart’s electrical system be monitored throughout the day.

Keep in mind
The Holter monitor is a test that does not constitute any risk to those that use it. Its only known complication is that some of its sensors that attach to the body can irritate the skin in individuals that are particularly sensitive, yet this is very uncommon.