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Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm disorder.
To diagnose atrial fibrillation, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms, review your medical history, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition, including:
Event recorder. This portable ECG device is intended to monitor your heart activity over a few weeks to a few months. You activate it only when you experience symptoms of a fast heart rate.
When you feel symptoms, you push a button, and an ECG strip of the preceding few minutes and following few minutes is recorded. This permits your doctor to determine your heart rhythm at the time of your symptoms.
Echocardiogram. In this noninvasive test, sound waves are used to produce a sonar video image of your heart. Sound waves are directed at your heart from a wand-like device (transducer) that's held on your chest (transthoracic echocardiogram). The sound waves that bounce off your heart are reflected through your chest wall and processed electronically to provide video images of your heart in motion, to detect underlying structural heart disease.
Doctors may conduct a type of echocardiogram in which they guide a flexible tube with a transducer attached down your throat into your esophagus (transesophageal echocardiogram). In this test, sound waves are used to produce images of your heart, which may be seen more clearly with this type of echocardiogram. Doctors may also use this test to detect blood clots that may have formed in your heart.
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