Holter monitoring is used to record a continuous ECG trace typically from 24hrs up to a full 7 days of recording. It is very useful in the diagnosis of intermittent arrhythmias that may be responsible for episodes of syncope (fainting) or collapse.
It is also used for the diagnosis of certain conditions such as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) also known as Boxer cardiomyopathy. In this heart condition affecting the Boxer breed the echocardiogram and the ECG recording in the clinic could be completely normal but it is only with the help of 24hr ECG recording that a diagnosis may be made.
It is also frequently used in the Doberman Pinscher breed for diagnosis of arrhythmias often associated with Dilated Cardiomyopathy in this breed.
I have my own holter monitors which can be fitted on the same day as your initial consultation and can be removed by the owner or their vet and returned to me in a stamped addressed envelope supplied. This prevents owners having to come long distances to have an initial scan, then back for holter fitting and back again for holter removal.
HOW IS A HOLTER MONITORING AMBULATORY ECG PERFORMED IN DOGS AND CATS?
Holter monitoring is performed using the monitor itself which typically has 3 leads connected to 3 electrodes on the skin. We then use specifically designed vests which are made out of neoprene and come in various sizes to fit a wide range of patients from a cat to a Great Dane!
The picture below is one of our patients with her holter vest on. (In fact she liked it so much after we were finished recording her holter ecg the owner asked if she could keep the vest).
WHAT INFORMATION CAN THE VET OBTAIN FROM 24 HR HOLTER MONITORING / AMBULATORY (ECG) TEST IN YOUR DOG OR CAT?
The typical holter recording will allow us to check if there have been any periods of irregular heart rhythm that could account for an episode of weakness or collapse. It can be scrutinised by a computer software program to quickly and accurately highlight any abnormalities.
Once a diagnosis is made on holter monitoring then appropriate medication can often be started to protect against potentially life threatening arrhythmias.