A Holter monitor is a small, portable device that continuously records the heart’s electrical activity for 24 hours or longer. Your child wears the device at all times during their regular daily activities, such as going to school, playing, eating and sleeping.
Holter monitoring is a painless and noninvasive (doesn’t enter the body) test that works like a standard electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). Because a standard EKG records heart activity only for a few seconds, it may miss symptoms that come and go.
A Holter monitor provides a more complete picture of the heart’s electrical activity so we can see problems that may be causing your child’s symptoms. At Pediatric Heart Specialists (PHS), we use pediatric Holter monitors for periods from 24 hours to 14 days.
A Holter monitor measures the heart’s electrical activity, which controls heart rate and rhythm by sending mild electric signals through heart muscle. These signals coordinate contractions in the heart’s chambers to pump blood through the heart and to the lungs and body.
Our pediatric cardiologists use Holter monitors if we suspect that your child may have a problem with their heart rate or rhythm, called an arrhythmia. Your child might need Holter monitoring if:
Our pediatric cardiologists use a Holter monitor test to help diagnose arrhythmia by evaluating symptoms such as:
If your child experiences symptoms less often, we may recommend a cardiac event monitor. Your child wears an event monitor for 30 days to capture irregular heart rhythms that happen only a few times a month.
If we recommend a Holter monitor for your child, we usually provide it during the same office visit. Sometimes, we order the device and have it mailed to your home with instructions.
Before you receive the monitor, explain the test to your child. You can tell them that it might look scary, but it won’t hurt.
In most cases, the device is a small patch that we attach to your child’s chest. The patch, an electrode, is sticky and will stay on for the entire time of the test, up to 14 days.
Sometimes, we use a larger Holter monitor connected to several patch electrodes. We place them on your child's chest and connect them to the Holter monitor with wires. The monitor is a small, portable device that your child can put in their pocket or clip to their clothing. It may have a strap and pouch so they can wear it around their neck or over their shoulder.
After we attach the Holter monitor, your child can go about their usual activities. We provide you with instructions about:
The Holter monitor continuously records your child’s heart activity during the entire time of the test. After the monitoring period, you can take the patches off your child and mail the monitor and activity record back to the device company. The company sends us the Holter monitor results, and we review them with you to decide on the next steps in your child’s heart care.
Holter monitoring is a safe, painless, noninvasive test. The only risk is skin irritation or an allergic reaction to the adhesive in the patch electrodes. If your child has sensitive skin, we can arrange for special electrodes that are gentler on their skin.