Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

How is atrial fibrillation (A Fib) diagnosed without symptoms?

Premier Health’s Dr. Mark Krebs explains how atrial fibrillation (A Fib) is diagnosed when symptoms are not present. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

   

According to the 2005 Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management (AFFIRM) study, 12% of the study population experienced no symptoms of atrial fibrillation (A Fib). Because no symptoms prompt a doctor visit, people with asymptomatic A Fib are diagnosed by chance, if they are diagnosed at all. In other words, their healthcare provider finds the abnormal heart rhythm during a routine check-up or during a visit for other complaints.

Once the arrhythmia is discovered or suspected, the healthcare provider may refer you to a specialist for further testing. Diagnostic tests that confirm atrial fibrillation include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)—electrodes are placed on the skin to record the heart’s electrical activity
  • Holter monitoring—a patient wears a Holter monitor, a portable ECG device, that records heart activity for 24 to 48 hours
  • Event recording—a patient wears an event recorder, which is similar to a Holter monitor but is worn for a longer period of time and automatically activates when an arrhythmic episode begins (Event recording is necessary for patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation who experience intermittent abnormal heart rhythms.)

Because asymptomatic atrial fibrillation may only be discovered during an exam, it is important to get regular checkups.

Ask your health care provider about atrial fibrillation at your next routine physical. 

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

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