The diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AFib) can be tricky, and the condition is often misdiagnosed. Doctors encourage patients to describe symptoms regardless of how insignificant they may see to them. In addition to symptoms, the doctor also reviews a patient’s medical history and carries out a physical exam. Various tests are necessary to diagnose the problem and rule out other conditions. These tests include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) – the most important AFib diagnosis tool. Small electrodes are attached to the chest and arms to sense and record electrical signals traveling through the heart to quickly detect heart problems and monitor heart health.
- Echocardiogram – this method uses sound waves that create moving pictures of a heart to diagnose structural heart disease or blood clots in the heart.
- Holter monitor – patient in the pocket carries around or wears as a shoulder strap or belt a portable EKG device so it can monitor heart activity for 24 hours or longer.
- Event recorder – portable EKG device that monitors a heart over a few weeks or months, allowing your doctor to evaluate your heart condition in an exact time when it underwent an AFib episode.
- Blood tests – this method helps to rule out other conditions like thyroid disease.
- Stress test (exercise testing) – performing tests on the heart while a patient is exercising to understand how well the heart is performing while working its hardest.
- X-ray – chest x-ray displays the condition of heart and lungs, helps rule out other conditions.