For this test, some stick-ons (electrodes) are attached to the chest. These electrodes are connected to a box that records every single heart beat. This monitor is typically worn for 24 hours. You will be given a paper to write any symptoms that you may feel during the monitoring period. You should diligently give details of the symptoms along with the time that you feel those. You return this machine after a pre-determined period of monitoring. The monitor is then decoded to get beat to beat details of your heart.
It is helpful in following situations:
- If you have palpitations, the monitor can tell you whether the feeling of palpitations is due to heart rhythm problem.
- If you have symptoms during the monitoring period at a certain time, your doctor can see what your heart rhythm was like at the time of symptoms.
- It can tell you whether your heart was beating too fast or too slow.
- If you have premature beats (sometimes called missing beats), it will tell your doctor whether they are coming from lower or upper chamber of the heart.
This test mainly evaluates the rhythm of your heart. It does not tell anything about blockages in the heart arteries, or strength of the heart muscles.
This monitoring is done over 24-48 hours. So if you feel the symptoms infrequently (once in a few months, for example), this test is less likely to be useful.
There is another kind of monitor that is worn for much longer (typically 30 days). It is called event monitor.