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How is the test performed?
Holter monitors are worn for to measure your heart’s activity throughout your normal day.
How much does it cost?
Holter monitoring is covered through provincial health programs.
When will I get results?
Results are available to healthcare providers within 3-5 days.
A Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that records your heart activity for typically 24 to 72 hours, and up to 7 to 14 days. The device is small, lightweight, and hangs around your neck while connecting cable to sensors attached to your chest. A Holter monitor captures all your heart activity throughout the day and while your sleep. This allows a physician to determine if there are intermittent abnormalities to your heart rhythm over an extended period of time. The test is safe and painless.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a Holter monitor test to detect possible heart-related problems if you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Irregular heart beats
- Shortness of breath
A Holter monitor is set up at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre. When you arrive for your appointment, the lab assistant will ask you a few health-related questions (height, weight, medications, symptoms, reason for the testing, if you have had this test performed before and whether you have a pacemaker) and ask you to remove your shirt so disposable sensors can be attached to your chest. A lab assistant will then:
- Rub alcohol in the area of your chest where the sensors are to be attached.
- If necessary, shave any chest hair in the area a sensor will need to be attached
- Attach the sensors and then hook cables to the monitor and the sensors. Some patients may experience slight irritation or marking where the sensors are attached.
- Provide you with any specific instructions to ensure accurate testing.
The monitor is a little larger than a cell phone and will allow you to continue with your normal daily activity. Unless instructed otherwise, you must wear the monitor from the time it is connected until it is removed by LifeLabs. While you are wearing the monitor, it cannot get wet.
After the testing period, you will return to LifeLabs and have the monitor removed. The recordings will then be transmitted to a physician for reading with the findings forwarded to your healthcare provider.
There are three main components of Holter monitor testing:
Placement of sensors: 30 minutes
Wearing of monitor: minimum 24-hours or as directed by your physician
Removal of sensors: 15 minutes
You must wear the monitor from the time it is connected until it is removed by LifeLabs.
Very little preparation is needed to prepare for a Holter monitor. On the day of the test we ask that you:
- Shower or bathe just prior to your appointment.
- Do not apply lotions or talcum to your skin.
- Wear a comfortable 2-piece outfit.
- If you wear a bra, choose a comfortable one as you will be asked to keep it on for the duration of the test.
- For patients with chest hair, please note that it will be necessary to shave the areas where the sensors will be attached.
- Bring a list of all your current prescribed medication.
- If you have a pacemaker, bring a copy of your current settings or Pacemaker card.
- Bring a time piece (watch or mobile phone) to your appointment.
Interpretation of Holter monitor readings is done by a physician and the report will be forwarded to your healthcare provider within 3-5 working days. It’s important for you to discuss your results directly with your healthcare provider as they will recommend whether additional testing or care is required.
Holter monitoring services are available at select Patient Services Centres. This portable device provides the continuous monitoring of various electrical activities of the cardiovascular system for at least 24 hours in an ambulatory environment.
In Ontario, we are pleased to offer Holter monitoring for 1 and 2-week periods, which are particularly useful in the diagnosis related to syncope and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (i.e. the symptoms are not constant and occur occasionally).
LifeLabs provides Holter monitoring to patients who are stable and not clinically suspected of suffering acute myocardial infarction or a life threatening cardiac event.
A ‘stat’ or urgent Holter monitoring service is not available. Patients clinically suspected of a serious cardiac event should be directed to a facility equipped to undertake intervention when this is required, not to a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre. For the same reason, biochemical markers of myocardial injury are not available on an urgent basis.
Following the completion of the monitoring period, the recordings are transmitted to interpreting specialists for analysis and reporting. The report is provided to the requesting physician usually within 3-5 days from the end of the monitoring period.
Holter monitoring may be scheduled directly by the patient at any of our Patient Service Centres offering this service. They must have a requisition form completed by a physician or healthcare provider. You may also book an appointment on behalf of your patient through our customer care department.
We also offer mobile lab services for non-acute hospitals, long-term care facilities and retirement residences. These must be booked in advance by the organization requiring the service.