Heart Home > EKG for Atrial Fibrillation

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is often performed in cases where for atrial fibrillation is suspected or a doctor needs more information on the heart's electrical activity. If the EKG does not confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order an event monitor test to record your heart activity. One such test involves a Holter monitor, which is designed to be worn for 24 hours.

An Overview of Using an EKG for Atrial Fibrillation

An atrial fibrillation diagnosis is often confirmed by an electrocardiogram, or EKG.
In this test, small patches are placed on your chest, back, arms, and/or legs to monitor the electrical signals coming from your heart. This information helps your doctor know more about the electrical activity of your heart, including its rate and rhythm. If you have an episode of atrial fibrillation during the test, it will be shown on the EKG.

What If the EKG Shows a Normal Heart Rhythm?

It is possible to visit your healthcare provider and have an EKG show a normal heart rhythm. This can happen in people whose episodes of atrial fibrillation only happen occasionally. So if atrial fibrillation is suspected but not confirmed by your EKG, your doctor may ask you to wear a recording device called a portable cardiac event monitor.
Holter Monitor
One type of event monitor, called a Holter monitor, is designed to be worn for 24 hours.
For this test, patches are placed on your chest and are then connected to a small recording machine that's usually worn around the waist. It records the electrical activity of your heart for your doctor to review later. You will probably also be asked to keep a record of your activities and any symptoms you have while wearing the monitor. Your doctor can then compare your activities and symptoms to the electrical signals recorded from your heart.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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