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How is an echocardiogram used to diagnose atrial fibrillation?

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This test uses sound waves and a computer to create a moving picture of your heart. An "echo" gives your doctor information about:

  • The size and shape of your heart
  • How well the heart muscle and valves are working
  • Where the heart muscle isn't contracting the right way

The same device makes the sound waves and picks them up bouncing back. When your doctor puts it on your chest, this procedure is called a transthoracic echocardiogram. To get closer to your heart so it's easier to make clear pictures and see blood clots, your doctor can feed the device through your mouth and down your throat while you're sedated and won't feel it. That's called a transesophageal echocardiogram.

SOURCES:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "How is Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosed?"

American Heart Association: "Common Tests for Arrhythmia."

Northwestern Memorial Hospital: "Atrial Fibrillation Express Test."

Heart Rhythm Society: "Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)."

Medscape: "Atrial Fibrillation Workup: Lab Studies."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on February 19, 2021

SOURCES:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "How is Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosed?"

American Heart Association: "Common Tests for Arrhythmia."

Northwestern Memorial Hospital: "Atrial Fibrillation Express Test."

Heart Rhythm Society: "Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)."

Medscape: "Atrial Fibrillation Workup: Lab Studies."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on February 19, 2021

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How are blood tests used to diagnose atrial fibrillation?

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