Fast or abnormal heart rates don't always occur during an in-office electrocardiogram (EKG) test, so expert pediatric cardiologist Laura Boulos, DO, at iHeart Pediatrics in Old Bridge, New Jersey, uses Holter and event monitoring technology. These portable devices record the electrical activity in your child's heart over several days and send the information back to Dr. Boulos for analysis. Find out more by calling iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.
Holter and event monitors are small, portable electronic electrocardiogram (EKG) devices that your child wears to record their heart's rhythm and electrical activity.
A standard EKG is a valuable diagnostic tool and is one of the main methods of assessing heart rhythm. However, it takes place in-office with your child at rest, providing a snapshot of their heart's activity.
Holter and event monitoring use similar technology to the in-office EKG, but they assess your child's heart rhythm over longer periods and during their normal daily activities. Holter and event monitoring can detect heart problems that a standard EKG may not pick up.
These monitors are used to detect and diagnose an arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm, as well as monitor the improvement of these rhythms during treatment.
Dr. Boulos uses Holter and event monitoring to detect and diagnose problems like arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms. It's not unusual to have an occasional extra or skipped heartbeat, but persistent abnormal beats may be of concern. In some cases, an irregular heart rhythm is a sign of a cardiac condition. Abnormal heart rhythms can be fast, slow, or just irregular.
Tachycardia means the heart is beating faster than normal. Supraventricular tachycardia is one of the more common abnormal causes of tachycardia in children and young adults. It may be due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, where children are born with an alternate electrical pathway in their heart.
Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation are less common, and cause the heart to flutter or quiver rather than squeezing properly, making it hard for your child's heart to pump blood effectively. Other more serious arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia are rare in children. These rhythm abnormalities can be associated with inherited conditions or structural heart defects.
Bradycardia occurs when the heart is beating slower than usual. Sinus bradycardia is commonly seen in athletes who have strong, conditioned hearts and is not a cause for concern. Other more serious causes for bradycardia include heart block, which can be inherited or acquired.
Holter and event monitoring are painless and noninvasive. Your child simply carries the device, which easily attaches to a belt, and wears electrodes on their chest that record the electrical activity of their heart.
A Holter monitor records continuously for up to 48 hours, while a symptomatic event monitor records heart activity when you or your child activates it for up to 30 days. Both devices have buttons to press whenever your child's symptoms occur, which helps Dr. Boulos identify the key time periods.
Holter and event monitors record and transmit all of this information to Dr. Boulos, which enables her to determine whether your child's heart is beating abnormally.
For more information about Holter and event monitoring or to discuss any concerns about your child's heart health, call iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.