Can Digital Health Reduce Holter Monitoring Costs?

holter monitor cost

Holter ECG technology was developed in the 1940s, and the ambulatory version was launched in the mid-1950s.

A cardiac Holter monitor is an invaluable tool to detect heart conditions. It is a portable, battery-powered electrocardiography (ECG) device used to record a patient’s heart rate for 24 to 48 hours. This non-invasive device usually includes a display, electrodes, and software for storing and interpreting the collected data.

Even while carrying a box the size of a smartphone and being fitted with electrodes and cables might be annoying, the operation is painless and straightforward. First, electrode patches will be stuck to your chest and connected to the Holter device. Then, depending on the model’s size, you may transport it within a pouch or sling it across your shoulders like a bag.

A Holter Monitor Test is not free, despite its benefits in assessing heart disorders. New gadgets have just entered the market in the hopes of lowering costs and improving the ease of a vital examination that will be highly beneficial to cardiologists.

What can a Holter monitor detect?

Cardiac Holter monitors are extensively used in hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and at home to diagnose heart rate abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, and arrhythmia.

Due to the lack of literature of definitive guidelines on which patients may require ambulatory ECG monitoring, Researchers have suggested the following rationale: 

  • Determine the relationship between palpitations and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Determine the source of syncope or near syncope.
  • Assess transient cardiac arrhythmias or myocardial ischemia.
  • Patients with neurologic symptoms suspected of having transitory atrial fibrillation or flutter
  • To assess the efficacy and safety of pharmacological or nonpharmacological treatments.
  • To investigate the operation of pacemakers or other implanted devices.
  • To assess the risk of sudden cardiac death.

What should you not do with a Holter monitor?

In a nutshell, a Holter monitor is a portable electrocardiogram recorded for extensive periods. 

Despite its benefits, there are somehow some precautions to take to avoid disturbing the recording of the signal, such as:

  • Getting close to high-voltage due to electrical interference
  • Avoid getting too near to powerful magnets.
  • Strong magnets, X-rays, or metal detectors can interfere with the circuitry of the Holter monitor, skewing your findings.
  • Using particular electrical gadgets such as electric blankets, electric toothbrushes, electric razors

How much does it cost to wear a Holter monitor?

Medical-grade cardiac monitors are costly, often costing thousands of dollars. Hence the cost of the exam can range anywhere from $300 to $1,200 if no medical insurance is present.

Can new devices reduce the cost and improve heart monitoring?

With smartwatches now offering the possibility to record FDA-cleared electrocardiograms and detect Atrial Fibrillation episodes or other types of cardiac arrhythmia, it is natural to wonder if abnormal heart rhythm could not be used to change the way an ambulatory electrocardiogram is acquired. 

The main issue faced by smartwatches or other portable EKG devices such as the Kardia Mobile is that even though they provide accurate recording, they are designed to be instantaneous. Therefore, they do not allow continuous 24 hour Holter monitoring.

Cardea Solo by Cardiac Insight Inc.

Cardea Solo is a lightweight, portable single-electrode ECG Holter monitor that is more comfortable and easier to use than standard Holter devices. 

The signal is recorded with high quality. Being free of any wire, such a Holter monitor device is handy for long-term recordings. In addition, the built-in memory allows up to seven days of storage and makes it convenient for patients who only experience intermittent symptoms.

Patients like wearable patches since there are no lead wires, there is no need to remove the monitor to shower (IP-65 water-resistant), and reporting a symptom is simple.

Zio Patch by iRythms Technologies Inc.

The ZIO Patch is distinct from typical Holter monitors in that it lacks leads, cables, and batteries. The ZIO Patch is a peel-and-stick device that weighs only a few ounces and is worn for a prolonged monitoring period of up to 14 days.

EZecg Patch by Hemodynamics Inc.

The EZecg is based on the same principles of affordable long-term (up to 14 days) holders. 

It weighs only 7.5 grams, battery included, is water-resistant, and synchronizes the data every 24 hours via Bluetooth.

Interestingly the device goes beyond a simple ECG signal recorded. It offers Mobile Cardiac Telemetry that analyzes the ECG in real-time. Hence, offering the possibility to expedite the diagnosis.

All these ECG patches come at a fraction of the cost of standard devices. They are all FDA-Cleared and can detect cardiac symptoms accurately. 

One drawback may be that they rely on a single-lead ECG that is sufficient for detecting most arrhythmia but lacks multi-lead electrocardiograms’ accuracy.

Final thoughts

Undoubtedly, an adhesive patch is a convenient way to detect cardiac events in a less intrusive way than standard Holters.

Smartwatches and At-home EKG devices come at a fraction of the price of a clinical Holter and have the potential to help detect more cardiac arrhythmia. 

Somehow, the devices should not be used independently when a diagnosis is poised. A smartwatch and even the most clever algorithms will never replace a cardiologist. 

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