Screening for Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
Screening is not done specifically for arrhythmias, since they are just one manifestation of heart disease. Instead, your annual physical should provide a screening for heart disease. The screening involves measuring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, listening to your heart and lungs, and asking questions about your lifestyle habits, such as eating, smoking, exercise, and drinking alcohol.
Depending on the outcome of this screening, your healthcare provider may decide to do an ]]>electrocardiogram (EKG)]]> . The EKG records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle. It can detect damaged areas of heart muscle or an arrhythmia that is occurring at the time of the test.
There are no screening guidelines specifically for arrhythmias. However, if you are over the age of 50 and have a history of heart disease, it is recommended that you have an annual check-up, which should include an evaluation of your heart health.
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Kroenke, K, Arrington, ME, Mangelsdorff, AD. The prevalence of symptoms in medical outpatients and the adequacy of therapy. Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:1685.
Mayou R, Sprigings D, Birkhead J, Price J. Characteristics of patients presenting to a cardiac clinic with palpitation. QJM. 2003;96:115.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed June 2008 by ]]>Michael J. Fucci, DO]]>
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