December 1, 2015

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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Heart monitors and other tests

Holter monitor

If episodes of AFib occur intermittently, a standard EKG performed at the time of a visit to the doctor's office may not show AFib. Therefore, a Holter monitor, a continuous recording of the heart's rhythm for 24 hours, often is used to diagnose intermittent episodes of AFib.

Patient-activated event recorder

If the episodes of atrial fibrillation are infrequent, a 24-hour Holter recording may not capture these sporadic episodes. In this situation, the patient can wear a patient-activated event recorder for 1 to 4 weeks. The patient presses a button to start the recording when he or she senses the onset of irregular heartbeats or symptoms possibly caused by AFib. The doctor then analyzes the recordings at a later date.

Other tests

High blood pressure and signs of heart failure can be ascertained (determined) during a physical examination of the patient. Blood tests are performed to detect abnormalities in blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, electrolytes, and thyroid hormone levels. Chest X-rays reveal enlargement of the heart, heart failure, and other diseases of the lung. Exercise treadmill testing (a continuous recording of the EKG during exercise) is a useful screening study for detecting severe coronary artery disease. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 5/27/2015
Atrial Fibrillation Quiz