Atrial Fibrillation: Tests and Diagnosis
The plan of the diagnostic examination depends on the clinical picture of the arrhythmia:
- It is necessary to obtain the history of arrhythmia in order to determine its clinical picture, if there are any characteristic complaints;
- ECG is used for the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. By means of electrocardiogram, it is possible to detect the associated heart pathology (myocardial infarction in the past and other types of arrhythmia);
- Holter monitoring is performed during 24 hours in case the ECG procedure did not detect any atrial fibrillation attacks; also it is performed if there is a suspected paroxysmal form of this condition;
- Ultrasound of the heart is used to detect organic pathologies of the heart (for example, valves defects) and define the size of the atria. Also, this method helps detect blood clots in atria and evaluate the risk of stroke;
- Cardiac stress test is administered in patients with the symptoms of the coronary heart disease.
It is important to evaluate the risk of cerebrovascular accident in atrial fibrillation patients. Also, it is reasonable to conduct the following tests:
- Thyroid gland functioning test – it involves the estimation of the thyroid-stimulating hormone level in the blood serum;
- Detailed complete blood count;
- Estimation of the electrolytes levels in the blood;
- Estimation of the blood glucose to detect the signs of diabetes;
- Chest X-ray in order to check the state of the heart and lungs.
Next chapter: Treatment and prevention of atrial fibrillation