Tests Used to Diagnose Atrial Fibrillation

March 8, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN

Heart problems are scary and if your loved one is having heart rhythm problems, also known as atrial fibrillation or A-fib, then they might be concerned that the problem is much worse.

5 Tests Used to Diagnose Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Your loved one’s doctor is likely to run a few different types of tests in order to confirm that atrial fibrillation is the problem.

1. Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a test your loved one’s doctor may run in their office. It involves attaching electrodes to your loved one’s torso to record the electrical signals that correspond to your loved one’s heartbeat. Your loved one’s doctor then reads the results, looking at the patterns of the heartbeats, to determine if A-fib is what is causing problems for your loved one.

2. Holter Monitor

A Holter monitor is a portable version of the ECG machine. Your loved one wears the device for a day or longer. This gives your loved one’s doctor an idea what their heart is doing over a longer period of time than they can measure in the office. Measuring heartbeats with a Holter monitor can often give your loved one’s doctor a fuller picture of how often your loved one is having heartbeat irregularity.

3. Echocardiogram

Echocardiograms are another type of test that your loved one’s doctor can run in their office. This type of test uses sound waves to form an image of your loved one’s heart. Your loved one’s doctor can see your loved one’s heart while it’s beating and can therefore track the heartbeats and any irregularities. Your loved one’s doctor can also spot blood clots inside the heart with an echocardiogram.

4. Stress Testing

When your loved one’s doctor orders a stress test for your loved one, your loved one has to exercise, usually on a treadmill, while having their heart rates measured. If your loved one is already in poor health, their doctor may not want him to perform this test.

5. Blood Tests

Blood tests can help your loved one’s doctor to determine if a health condition is what contributed to their atrial fibrillation. Some of the conditions that might lead to atrial fibrillation include thyroid issues, high blood pressure, lung diseases, or even viral infections.

Talk to your loved one’s doctors about ways to make their life easier after they’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

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