Diagnosis of AFib

Diagnosis of AFib

What Is Involved in Getting A Diagnosis of AFib?

If you or your doctor suspect that you have atrial fibrillation, there are several helpful tests that can be used to diagnose whether you have AFib. In addition, other heart-related tests may be ordered to provide a complete picture of any other possible problems that may either contribute to AFib or be causing some of the symptoms you may be experiencing. These tests can help reveal any underlying heart disease or structural issues such as enlargement of the atria or heart valve malfunction. These are especially important when you are scheduled to undergo a procedure for atrial fibrillation.

Common helpful tests to diagnose atrial fibrillation:

What is an Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)?

An electrocardiogram is a test that measures and charts the electrical activity of the heartbeat. The result provides a readout of the patterns, or rhythms, of the important phases of a heartbeat pattern.

What is an Electrophysiology Study (EPS)?

An electrophysiology study is a catheter-based test that helps doctors understand the causes of your abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and more closely investigate possible treatments to help you.

Monitoring Your Heart Rhythm

There are several types of monitors that may help provide additional information to your healthcare provider. These can be helpful for arriving at an accurate diagnosis, and they may also be useful for evaluating the changes after a medication has been started or a procedure has been performed.

You may be asked to wear a Holter monitor to see if you have a slow, fast or irregular (uneven) heartbeat. 

Additional Testing for Possible Causes and Effects

Although some (very few) people truly have what is called “lone AFib,” or atrial fibrillation that seems unrelated to any other existing problem, many people develop atrial fibrillation in response to another problem that is going on in or around the heart.

Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation in Children

Does your child have atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib)? Or do you wonder about the possibility because your child tires easily and has pounding, irregular, or fast heartbeats? Here are some facts you should know.

Recent Discussions From The Providers Office Forum
Deb M avatar

I am going into the hospital next Wednesday for "tikosyn load". My doctor's office is not very forthcoming with information. Can anyone tell me what to expect? How is the load done and monitored? Is the load constant through IV or only at particular times? Do you have to actually lay in a bed for 3 days or can you get up and move around? Can you shower? What should you take to the hospital with you? Were you able to have visitors? How long before you can resume normal activies when you return home? Has being on this medication changed your life style?I would appreciate any advice anyone has. Thank you.

mikeqi2011 avatar

Hi everyone! I joined the group and introduced myself in June after being diagnosed with persistent afib, mostly asymptomatic. My cardiologist and a very young EP at UCLA basically recommend that I just live with it. I'm an otherwise healthy 70 year old, work out 3-5 times a week and lead an active lifestyle. I'm on Eliquis and Metoprolol (12.5 twice a day). My heart is otherwise healthy. I was diagnosed in March but have probably been in afib for 12 - 18 months (don't know for sure).

My concern is about the long term toll of persistent afib and am exploring other doctors/opinions. Given that I have persistent afib, I have reached out to Dr. Randall Wolf in Houston regarding the mini-maze and am trying to identify equally reputable providers in Southern California (for mini-maze or ablation). I would very much appreciate recommendations of providers as well as thoughts in general.

My cardiologist told me that, if I were his brother, he would tell me the same, i.e., stop worrying, take the meds to control the risks, monitor and enjoy life. I hear him, but I'm not ready to accept this without additional consultations. BTW, I don't feel that the afib is truely asymptomatic. It's not the same as NSR, you know you're in it from this strange feeling of unease, and you tire a bit more easily....

Thanks in advance for your thoughts! And thanks to Melanie and everyone who makes this forum possible....


Wayne avatar

I am a 78-year old male with persistent AFIB for about the last 20 years with only occasional instances of racing heart rate.  In 2010, I had open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve along with a triple by-pass and a cryo-maze procedure to correct the AFIB (the maze procedure only fixed the AFIB for about a month).  In my opinion, I have been doing very well and see my personal physician and cardiologist twice a year.  I keep a good record of my vitals on a weekly basis.  Every so often (2 to 3 times a year) I note that my heart rate (normally 68-70 BPM) while sleeping will dive to the 40's and 50's and stay at that lower rate for a week or two.  Neither of my doctors seem concerned about this.  During my discussion last week with my cardiologist, while discussing this issue, he stated that AFIB can result in low heart rates as well as high heart rates and talked about a pacemaker if and when the low heart rate situation warrants it.  I did not know that AFIB could cause low heart rates and would like to hear if others on this forum have expeienced low heart rates as a result of AFIB.  Thanks.

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