How are atrial arrhythmias diagnosed?

To diagnose SVT, your doctor will typically use an electrocardiogram (ECG) test. This is a painless test that uses electrode patches on your skin to show how electrical signals travel through your heart. The ECG can be printed out on paper. Your doctor can tell what kind of rhythm you have by looking at the printed pattern of your heartbeat.

Atrial Fibrillation ECG

An atrial arrhythmia is often labeled by how it starts and stops.

  • Paroxysmal – starts suddenly then stops on its own
  • Persistent – starts and continues until stopped with treatment
  • Permanent or Chronic – a rhythm that prevents a return to a normal heart rate

However, if atrial arrhythmias come and go, a regular ECG test may not show the problem. Your doctor may suggest other types of tests that involve wearing a small monitor over several days in an effort to record an episode. Your doctor will explain what type of testing is best for you.