AF Information & Advice For Patients
Know Your Pulse
The simplest way to detect heart rhythm disorders like AF is through a simple pulse check. If the rhythm of the beat seems irregular, this may indicate AF. However it is very important to check this with a doctor and to find out whether you do actually have AF.
Our Know Your Pulse campaign promotes routine pulse checks in GP surgeries and during flu clinics to detect AF in the most at risk groups in the community.
In hospital investigations to detect AF
If a clinician suspects you have Atrial Fibrillation, they will arrange for you to have an ECG (electrocardiogram).
An ECG is painless and records the electrical activity of your heart. Usually this is carried out in a GP surgery or at a local hospital, however, if your episodes ‘come and go’, you may be given a monitor – this is worn (simply taped to your chest) for 24 hours or more, and continuously records the electrical activities of your heart. When the monitor is returned the clinician can download the information and assess it. The heart rhythm can be diagnosed with certainty and possible underlying heart problems may often be detected.
Recording an ECG
Following the ECG, and if you are diagnosed as having AF, you may need to have an echocardiogram (a scan) which can assess the structure and overall function of the heart. This test is painless and without any risk to a patient. The results from this test will tell the physician about heart muscle disease (thickening or thinning), the size of the main pumping chambers, and the state of the heart valves, any of which might have aggravated the heart rhythm abnormality.