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Final part of our 3 part review of Atrial Fibrillation - this week - symptoms and diagnosis

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Atrial fibrillation  Part 3




The patient may be symptomless but if symptoms occur, they range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Palpitations: the patient may feel the sensation the heart beating fast or irregularly
  • Light headedness or dizziness
  • Chest pain or tightness.





An electrocardiogram (ECG) checks the heart's rhythm and electrical activity and confirms atrial fibrillation by recording the heart’s electrical signals. If the ECG is normal, but the clinician still suspects bouts of atrial fibrillation (paroxysmal atrial fibrillation), then a record of the heart rhythm over 24 hours will be needed to confirm. A holter monitor can be used for this purpose. A holter monitor is a type of portable electrocardiogram (ECG) that the patient can wear at home and records electrical activity of the heart continuously over 24 hours or even longer.


An echocardiogram is a heart ultrasound scan that gives visibility of the heart’s structure and functioning. An echocardiogram is considered the best diagnostic tool to diagnose AF. Echocardiographic predictors of AF are enlargement of left atrial, reduced function of the left ventricular and increased thickness of left ventricular walls.


Blood tests

Blood tests cannot help diagnosing AF, but once a patient diagnosed with AF, they may be done to determine and rule out possible causes of AF (e.g.) Diabetes, pulmonary embolus, infection


Booster Vaccine

If you have atrial fibrillation, you may be at more risk from COVID-19. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for the second Covid 19 booster. Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St have a weekly walk-in clinic for Covid-19 boosters. Call 0449334591 for more.


BPro Cardio Screen Service

Measures artery stiffness to identify risk of blockages and cardiovascular and circulatory disease. BPRo is placed like a watch on your wrist and is pain free. A pulse wave reads and calculates a wave signal that indicates the elasticity of large, small, and peripheral artery walls as well as tests for stress, central blood pressure, heart rate, and more. It is now €35 (was €50); it only takes about 15 minutes. The next clinic is Saturday July 30th (from 9am to 5pm) at Whelehans Pearse St. Book online on the Whelehans Website or by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591.

To be continued…I will discuss treatment of atrial fibrillation in September in this health column.


Disclaimer: BPro Cardio is not an alternative to medical assessment; it can indicate risk of cardiovascular events but is not a diagnosis

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore) or


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