24-hour tape monitoring/ Holter monitoring
24-hour tape monitoring, also called Holter monitoring or an ambulatory electrocardiography (ECG), is a test to monitor your heart rate and heart rhythm over a 24-hour period.
The test is similar to a standard ECG, except that the monitor is kept on and worn for a full day and overnight. This can be useful for investigating and diagnosing suspected heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), particularly if symptoms are intermittent and a standard ECG failed to capture any irregularities. It’s very common for symptoms such as palpitations, breathlessness and irregular heartbeat to occur in episodes, rather than being constant, so monitoring heart rate for 24 hours can provide a more accurate picture than a standard test. Sometimes, monitoring for longer may be required and some devices can be worn for up to a week.
For the test, you’ll need to attend the hospital to have the monitoring device fitted. This takes around 10 minutes and the nurse or specialist will explain everything you need to know about wearing the device. Electrodes (small sensors attached to sticky patches) will be applied to your chest. These will connect via a series of flexible cables to a small monitoring device which can be worn around the waist or in your pocket. This is very lightweight and discreet and once in place and activated, will operate automatically, taking readings at regular intervals. These will be automatically stored within the device, so you won’t need to do anything.
You’ll be asked to go about your day as normal, although you may be told to avoid very strenuous exercise which could affect the readings, and you will need to avoid getting the device wet. You’ll keep it on all day and night, including while you sleep.
After the device has been returned, the readings will be downloaded to produce a detailed 24-hour report of your blood pressure. This will be closely assessed by a cardiologist and, if required, any further investigations and treatments will be discussed during a follow-up appointment.
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