6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Having a Heart Monitor

6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Having a Heart Monitor

If you’re like me and have been closely monitored by a cardiologist for one reason or another (mine is tachycardia and cardiomyopathy), then you probably have or will have a heart monitor. A Holter heart monitor is a device that is used to record your heart’s activity. You may have to wear it for any amount of time spanning from 24 hours to 30 days, depending on your condition and what your doctor is checking.

heart monitor
My heart monitor. (Courtesy of Leah Leilani)

Just a couple of months ago, I had to wear a 30-day one because I was experiencing more frequent tachycardic episodes. There’s a lot to know about having a heart monitor, some of which a regular nurse wouldn’t know. So I thought I’d share some of those things with you.

1. Use lotion to remove adhesive. Lotion is the easiest way to remove the adhesive on your skin left from the stickers that connect to the electrodes. It is also the least irritating for your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin like me. Let the lotion sink into your skin before wiping of the adhesive with some tissue paper.

2. Do not put on lotion while stickers are on your skin. I’ve learned that putting lotion near the stickers while wearing them will cause the stickers to lift because of the lotion being absorbed by your skin.

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3. Hypoallergenic stickers don’t stick. As I said, I have very sensitive skin. As great as hypoallergenic stickers sound, they won’t stay on. I lost a couple of nights of valuable sleep because the monitor vibrates every time one of the electrodes is coming off. That brings me to the next tip.

4. Turn off the monitor while sleeping. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it is OK to turn the monitor off while you sleep, if it is constantly bothering you. If you don’t want to do this, I would recommend putting the monitor on a cushioned surface to prevent the vibration of the device from waking you.

5. Contact the company for extra supplies. If needed, you can always contact the company that made the monitor for extra stickers and batteries.

6. Send back your monitor. Once you’ve mailed the monitor back to the company, don’t be surprised if it sends you a notice saying that it has not received it. You may even get a bill telling you that you must pay for the missing device. Ask your doctor for a copy of the recordings taken from the monitor and mail it to the company as proof that the monitor was returned.

Having a heart monitor isn’t fun, but if the health of your heart is to benefit, in my opinion, it’s worth it. Stay positive and know that you’re not alone. I, along with many others, have been or are currently going through the same thing.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy. 

My name is Leah. I’m 20 years old and I was diagnosed at the age of nine with a a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy called Mitochondrial Myopathy. I’m a former MDA Regional Ambassador and have recently started my own blog. My disease affects my energy levels and I can not get through the day without my wheelchair and taking naps.
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My name is Leah. I’m 20 years old and I was diagnosed at the age of nine with a a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy called Mitochondrial Myopathy. I’m a former MDA Regional Ambassador and have recently started my own blog. My disease affects my energy levels and I can not get through the day without my wheelchair and taking naps.

15 comments

  1. Kathryn says:

    When mailing the monitor back, ask for a proof of mailing receipt. There is no charge and you will have it to show it was sent.

  2. Debbie says:

    A tracking number from the postal service and a signed receipt showing the date it was delivered is my best advice.

  3. Sheryl says:

    I will be scheduling my monitor for 30 days, I swim several times a week at the pool and can be there up to 4 hours. Will this be an issue? It’s summer time in AZ. No way to avoid the pool and I shower daily. This is already causing me undue stress and I don’t even have the monitor yet. I feel like this will impact my already high BP negatively. I have insomnia and am claustrophobic so really not looking forward to this, however, I know it’s necessary for my long term health. I guess I’m asking how hard it is to put on and take off electrodes, wires, etc. Not to mention how it all looks with tank tops and sleeveless shirts at work. Thank you for sharing

    • Leah Leilani says:

      Sheryl, all your concerns are valid things to think about. I am an extremely light sleeper but the monitor is easy to get used to after a couple days. Once you get the monitor your physician will provide you with the stickers that attach to the electrodes. They may not give you the extra sticky ones but I would suggest asking for them or calling the company so you can get some. They can last through showers but I would suggest taking of the entire monitor in the shower or for swimming. Depending on which monitor you get, there is a good possibility it will be seen if you’re wearing a shirt with a lower neckline. There’s no need to stress about it. 30 days will go by very quick.

    • Taryn Brenner says:

      I got my 30 day one yesterday and I can shower and swim(down to a 3 foot depth) in it.

      It doesn’t look like the one she got. Mine is simply a sticker stuck in the middle of my chest with a small waterproof monitoring attached to the sticker itself. There aren’t any visible wires and all you have to do is switch out only the monitoring unit for the other(you get two) when the first one has a low battery(after 24 hours my first monitoring unit is at 80% so you don’t have to swap units frequently and they provide a USB to double mini-USB charging cable with plug to charge the phone and other unit) and you need to change the sticker once a week(they gave me 4 so I have a spare.) You also receive a cell phone that you should keep within 10 feet of you at all times, but if you can’t, once you get to the phone it’ll send everything it recorded while you were away from it. You can also use the app settings to put it on Do Not Disturb at night so it won’t bother you.

      There are several different types of monitors so it really depends on what model your doctor uses as to which kind you’ll get. The one I’m using is called the Body Guardian Mini Plus.

      I will say there are two versions of the one I received, one has the electrodes and wires and the other is the one I’m using. Both are waterproof and good down to 3 ft and have the cell phone with app so you can set it to Do Not Disturb during nights or any other time you can’t be disturbed(like church, work, etc) since the phone is what sends you alerts of loose connections or the unit getting a low battery, not the unit on your chest itself. You also can’t see it under a shirt. Just stay calm, the 30 days will pass by quickly and it’ll be over before you know it.

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