Tests to diagnose atrial flutter
Your family doctor may order one or more of the tests below. A heart doctor (cardiologist) usually reviews the test results.
ECG or EKG – an ECG (electrocardiogram) is done by placing stickers called electrodes on the skin of your limbs and body. These electrodes are connected to a machine that creates a paper tracing of the electrical activity of your heart as the electrical impulse travels through the heart muscle.
If you’re in atrial flutter at the time the ECG is done, the tracing will show this.
Holter monitor – is a small portable monitor, connected with electrodes to your chest that you wear for 24 to 48 hours. The Holter Monitor records electrical activity of your heart as the electrical impulse travels through the heart muscle. If you go into atrial flutter while wearing the Holter monitor, this arrhythmia will be recorded.
Echocardiogram – is an ultrasound picture of the heart’s chambers. Sound waves are sent through your chest wall; the waves bounce off the structures in the heart and create a picture that shows the structure of your heart, including the pumping and valve movements.
Event recorder – similar to a Holter monitor; it’s a small portable monitor that you carry with you for 1 to 2 weeks. If you have symptoms of an abnormal rhythm, you trigger the monitor to record your heart rhythm while you are having these symptoms. This monitor is sometimes called “King of Hearts”.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) – An ultrasound camera or transducer is passed down your swallowing tube (esophagus), which sits behind the heart. This type of ultrasound picture creates clear images of the heart structure. You’ll be given medicine that makes you relax (sedation) for this procedure.
If you already have an implanted
pacemaker or an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD),these devices often store information about heart rate and arrhythmias. It may be possible for your healthcare provider to see that you have had atrial flutter or another type by looking at the information stored in these devices at your regular clinic follow-up.
Other tests to rule out underlying disease that may cause atrial flutter include blood tests, an exercise treadmill test, a cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) scan, or a coronary angiogram.