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

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

Leah is a Southern California-based patient writer. She’s been an active member of the muscular dystrophy community since her regional ambassadorship with the MDA beginning at the age of 10 after her diagnosis of a rare neuromuscular disease, mitochondrial myopathy (Mito). Leah advocates for those with disabilities and promotes an understanding of her condition by evoking a positive outlook upon the obstacles she faces. Leah’s work doesn’t just stop at her column: she also doubles as a co-moderator on the MD News Forums. Away from her jobs, Leah is known among family and friends for her artistic creativity and outgoing personality.
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Leah is a Southern California-based patient writer. She’s been an active member of the muscular dystrophy community since her regional ambassadorship with the MDA beginning at the age of 10 after her diagnosis of a rare neuromuscular disease, mitochondrial myopathy (Mito). Leah advocates for those with disabilities and promotes an understanding of her condition by evoking a positive outlook upon the obstacles she faces. Leah’s work doesn’t just stop at her column: she also doubles as a co-moderator on the MD News Forums. Away from her jobs, Leah is known among family and friends for her artistic creativity and outgoing personality.

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34 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.

  4. Carol Dolida says:

    Shane: What is the alternative? I am supposed to get a 30 day monitor on Thursday (dreading it). Is there something else I could use?

  5. Heather Mundy says:

    I am currently in the middle of my 30 day heart monitor. This morning whenever I went to change the electrode patch (because it was itching underneath), I noticed there were skin bubbles where the center of the electrode lays on the skin. Has anyone else experienced this or know of ways to treat it?

    • Leah Leilani says:

      Heather,
      Your skin is probably a bit irritated from the adhesive. Some lotion should help to keep the area hydrated. Try placing the stickers in a different place every time. That way you won’t be irritating that area of skin further.

  6. Anita says:

    My 30 days should be about up, but the monitor says I have 6 days left. Do I still send it in with days left. They did call me to tell me there was a problem with it not recording at one time. Now it seems fixed. I won’t be charged for the extra days will I, or should I send it in before the 6 day return time?

  7. Olivia Well says:

    Thanks for this! I just started my 30-day monitor a couple days ago, and I had to take off the stickers for the first time last night. It was so painful! I used warm soapy water like it said on the package, but it was still a brutal experience! I had to scrape off the adhesive left on my skin with my fingernails and washcloth. I’ll definitely try lotion next time.

  8. Lynn Smith says:

    One thing I have to add, when I got my 30 day monitor the last time, the two gals putting it together clearly were undertrained. They spent a lot of time reading the instructions and couldn’t answer some of my questions. As I was leaving, they gave me the number of the company to call in case I had any questions. I came home feeling uneasy about it all being hooked up right. I called the company and found up there were getting NO DATA on me. No trace of me. So they walked me through the steps to get it working. Had I not called I would have worn the thing and entire month with out it registering. So when I go next week for another one, I will not hesitate to make sure the readings are going through. Lastly, I find it odd that if they are trying to do a 24 hour reading on your heart, that you would take it off at night. But if your doctor says it’s okay then lucky you. Good luck to all.

  9. Susie bishop says:

    I am on a 7 day event monitor. I told the technician that I have bad experiences with adhesive tape and was told this strip wouldn’t cause any issues. I was told not to remove the tape strips on my chest for the full 7 days. The first night the itching started and got worse and continued for two days. Now it has become quite sensitive and even painful at times. Not sure what to do. I still have two more days to wear this but it is waking me up at night too. Concerned that when this comes off my skin will be a mess. Thoughts?

  10. Tracey says:

    I’m wondering if I can sit under a hairdryer like the ones in a hair salon while I have a 30 day monitor on? Or should I take it off for that hour.

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