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What is Holter Monitoring?

Holter monitoring is a painless way to record your heartbeat away from your doctor’s office. It is a small, battery-operated electrocardiogram (ECG) machine that you carry with you. The device is about the size of a small, digital camera. Holter monitoring records your heartbeat for your doctor to review at a later time. You can receive your heart monitor in a hospital, test center, or doctor’s office.

Man's torso showing five ECG leads attached to chest, connected to Holter monitor clipped to belt.

Your Holter monitor

When you receive a Holter monitor, your health care provider places small, painless pads (electrodes) on your chest. These connect to the lightweight unit, which attaches to a belt or shoulder strap. You need to keep the device on for at least 24 to 48 hours hours and complete a diary. While wearing the monitor, follow these tips:

  • Try to sleep on your back.

  • Don’t take a shower. A sponge bath is OK.

  • Follow your normal routine. Don’t avoid stress, work, or exercise. It is important to record your heartbeat during your normal activities.

  • If an electrode falls off or the unit makes noise, call your doctor to see what you should do.

ECG of normal heartbeat. ECG of irregular heartbeat.


When using a Holter monitor

Stay away from electric blankets, magnets, metal detectors, and high-voltage areas such as power lines. They may affect the recording.

Holter monitor diary

  • Write in the time of day for each entry you make.

  • Note each change in activity, including when you take medicine.

  • Note any symptoms you feel.

Sample Holter monitor diary

Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 2/26/2014
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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