Holter Monitoring

Holter MonitoringAt UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test. We invite you to take part.

Learn about the test and how you can help.

Fast Facts About Holter Monitoring

A Holter monitor is a small recording device that takes a nonstop EKG reading of the heart. An EKG measures the electrical beats of the heart.

The test does not hurt, and all testing takes place outside of the body.

Your child will wear the device for 1 – 2 days when issued in the office, or 3 – 7 days for mailed tests.

The test will monitor their heart during normal activities, such as:

  • Going to school.
  • Playing at home.
  • Taking naps.
  • Sleeping through the night.

You'll need to keep a diary of your child's symptoms, changes of activity, or other unique events during the testing period. This will help the doctor link these events with any changes in the EKG.

After the test is complete, you must return the Holter monitor within 1 business day via the provided UPS packaging.

What Is Holter Monitoring?

It's a painless test that records your child's EKG for 24 hours.

  • Because it follows your child's heartbeat for a full day, this test helps detect abnormal heartbeats that happen on occasion.
  • This EKG data, and the diary you will keep, will help the doctor. They can find links between your child's actions (playing, standing up, feeling upset) and symptoms (dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeats, or blackouts).
  • The test can spot arrhythmias (a-RITH-mee-yas), or irregular heart rhythms.

Getting Your Child Ready for Holter Monitoring

There are just a few things you need to be aware of to prep for your child's Holter monitor test.

  • Your child may eat and drink as normal.
  • Do not use any cream, lotion, powder, or baby oil on your child's chest on the day of the test. You should also refrain from using these during the test.
  • Your child cannot take a bath or submerge during the test. They may shower while wearing the Holter monitor.
  • Your child should wear loose-fitting clothes when you go to the hospital. A shirt that buttons in the front makes it easier for our team to put the monitor on.
  • During the test, your child may do what they normally do in a day.

Your Child's Holter Monitor Test: What to Expect

Holter Monitoring

  • You and your child will come to the hospital to have the Holter monitor put on. We can also mail the test to those unable to come to the hospital.
  • A member of the heart care team will place small plastic stickers called electrodes (e-LECK-trodes) on your child's chest. Then they will connect them with wires to the Holter monitor. These electrodes do not hurt and must stay on your child's chest for the full test.
  • Your child can attach the Holter monitor using the provided sticker. Or, they can wear it like an iPod. They can attach it to a belt or place it in a small pouch with a strap.
  • We'll give you a special diary before you leave. We ask that you keep track of your child's activities, moods, and other ­factors at different times during the day. We'll show you how to fill out the diary.
  • Depending on your child's age and maturity, they may also be able to help you keep the diary of activities and symptoms.
  • An older child may receive a Holter monitor with an “event" button. They should press it to mark the time of a heart-related symptom. That way, your doctor can print an EKG from the exact time your child had symptoms.

When the test is over:

  • You may disconnect the Holter monitor and take the stickers off your child's chest. The heart care team will show you how to do that before you leave the hospital.
  • The next day, you must return the Holter monitor, wires, and completed diary using the UPS mailing package we gave you.

How You Can Help Make Your Child's Heart Test a Success

The most crucial thing you can do is to help make sure the Holter monitor test gathers all the needed data.

You can do that by:

  • Making sure the electrodes stay connected to the device.
  • Helping your child keep the device and electrodes dry and clean.
  • Taking good notes in the diary on your child's symptoms and other factors, as discussed on the day of the test.
  • Returning the Holter monitor to the hospital quickly so we can process the test results promptly.

When Will I Get My Child's EKG Test Results?

When you return the Holter monitor, you do not need to bring your child with you or wait for the results.

  • We will connect the Holter monitor to a computer. This will allow us to print out many EKG strips of your child's heartbeat at different times during the test period.
  • A doctor will look at the EKG strips and compare them with what you wrote in your child's diary. One of our doctors will analyze the results of the test.
  • The doctor who ordered your child's test will receive a report on the results within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • If the doctor who reads the results sees a life-threatening or potentially dangerous condition, your child's doctor will call right away.
  • You should follow up with the doctor who ordered the test if you have any further questions.

If Your Child Has Special Needs

Holter MonitoringIf your child has any special needs or health issues, please call the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's Hospital before the test.

For the main campus in Lawrenceville, dial 412-692-5540 and ask to speak with a nurse. For our center in Harrisburg, call 717-761-0200.

It's important to let us know in advance about any special needs your child might have. The more we know about your child's needs, the better we can help them have a smooth and successful test.

Contact Us

To refer a patient, visit our health care professionals page or complete our online form.

Patients or families can contact the Heart Institute by email at CHPHeartReferral@chp.edu, by phone at 412-663-6091, or by completing our online form.