Heart Home > Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis

In order to make a definitive diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, a healthcare provider considers a person's symptoms and performs a complete physical exam. He or she will likely also order certain tests. Tests used to make a diagnosis include an EKG, blood tests, and a Holter monitor test.

Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis: An Overview

A diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is usually made based on a description of the symptoms and the patient's medical history (see Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation), a thorough physical exam, and certain tests and procedures.

History and Physical Exam

As part of the medical history, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions, including questions about:
  • Current symptoms
  • Medical conditions
  • Current medications
  • Family history of medical conditions
  • Social history, including alcohol use and smoking.
The healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam looking for signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation. An irregular pulse, which your doctor may detect just by listening to your heart with a stethoscope, may be the first sign that your symptoms are due to atrial fibrillation.

Tests Used to Make an Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you may have atrial fibrillation, he or she may order additional tests. The specific tests ordered may be partly determined by these other health concerns. Some of the tests used for making an atrial fibrillation diagnosis include:
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Event monitor
  • Echocardiogram
  • Blood tests, including thyroid tests
  • Electrophysiology study (EPS).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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