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Heart Disease Health Center

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Ambulatory Electrocardiogram

How To Prepare continued...

If your doctor asks you to keep a symptom and activity diary, be sure that you keep track of these things closely. In this diary, you will record activities and symptoms and the times they occurred. You need to carefully keep this record for your test to be accurate and useful.

If you are getting a monitor put under your skin, you will get instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.

Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Continuous recorders

Continuous recorders are the most common type of monitor used for this test. This type includes the Holter monitor camera.gif.

A continuous recorder gives a 24- to 72-hour record of the electrical signals from your heart. A standard EKG monitors only 40 to 50 heartbeats during the brief time you are attached to the machine. A continuous recorder monitors about 100,000 heartbeats in 24 hours. It is likely to find any heart problems that happen with activity.

For this test, you wear a lightweight, battery-operated tape recorder (monitor). It attaches to a strap that goes over your shoulder or around your waist. The recorder is connected by wires to small pads or patches (electrodes) taped to your chest. These detect the electrical signals from your heart. The recorder has a clock on it. This is so you can note what time it is when you have any symptoms.

The recorder and electrodes will be put on in a doctor's office or hospital room.

  • Several areas on your chest may be shaved and cleaned. Then a small amount of paste or gel will be put on those areas.
  • The electrode pads will then be attached to the skin of your chest. Thin wires will connect the electrodes to the monitor.
  • You may be hooked up briefly to a standard EKG machine. This is done to check that the electrodes are working as they should.
What you do during the test

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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