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How is an electrocardiogram used to diagnose atrial fibrillation?

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This simple, painless test is the most helpful. It records your heart's electrical activity. It can show the:

A doctor or technician places small patches, called electrodes, on different areas of your body, including several on your chest. These pick up signals that make wave patterns on the electrocardiogram (EKG) results. It gives your doctor a picture of your heart's overall electrical activity. But because the test is a quick snapshot, a standard EKG won't always catch atrial fibrillation. Sometimes you'll need a portable EKG machine to keep tabs on your heart over a longer time.

  • Speed of your heartbeat
  • Rhythm of your heartbeat
  • Strength and timing of electrical signals passing through your heart

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

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How is a Holter monitor used to diagnose atrial fibrillation?

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