Overview of Holter and Ambulatory Telemetry Monitors

Ambulatory EKG monitoring allows your healthcare providers to monitor your EKG over a period of time, while you're going about regular activities. There are two common types of ambulatory monitors — Holter monitors and ambulatory telemetry monitors (ATMs).

Holter monitor: A 24 to 48-hour Holter monitor is a device which records your heart's activity over this period of time as you go about your daily activities. Like an EKG, it is safe and painless.

A Holter monitor is a small box about the size of a pager. It has cables that are attached to electrodes on your chest. The monitor records the activity of your heart digitally. The information is downloaded to a computer and scanned by expertly trained technicians, and the results of the scan are given to a physician to interpret for a diagnosis.

In Holter monitoring, several electrodes (usually 7) are placed on your chest and connected to a small monitor worn around the waist or neck, or on a belt loop.

Ambulatory telemetry: Ambulatory telemetry monitors (ATMs) are similar to a Holter monitor, but are prescribed for patients when symptoms are infrequent or not predictable, (may not occur during a given 24 to 48-hour period of time).

Patients wear ambulatory telemetry for up to 30 days. Patients are taught to remove the monitor daily before showering and then re-attach the monitor after showering. When symptoms occur, patients can push a button to mark their symptoms. But all heart beats are stored and analyzed, even if the patient is not having symptoms. The information is continuously downloaded to a receiving center 24 hours a day while the monitor is attached to the patient. Physicians are notified of any critical findings during the study.

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