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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 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.

  • The size and shape of your heart
  • How well the heart chambers and valves are working
  • Where the heart muscle isn't contracting the right way
  • Areas of poor blood flow
  • Previous injuries poor blood flow has caused

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 James Beckerman on May 17, 2018

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 James Beckerman on May 17, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

How is a chest X-ray used to diagnose atrial fibrillation?

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