Condition: Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter is when your heart's different chambers beat out of rhythm with one another, causing discomfort and pain.

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What is atrial flutter?

Atrial flutter is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that causes the upper chambers of your heart (atria) to beat too quickly, and in an abnormal rhythm. One can also have atrial flutter with a normal heart rate. It is a type of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

Atrial flutter is a type of atrial tachycardia. Typical atrial flutter arises from the right atrium. Some may feel symptoms, and others are asymptomatic.

This can lead to a number of health problems including stroke, heart failure and fatigue, so it is important to seek medical treatment for the condition. 

What are the symptoms of atrial flutter?

Some people with atrial flutter will have no symptoms, while others may experience:

What causes atrial flutter?

Atrial flutter is caused by an abnormality in the electrical circuit in the atria, which causes abnormally frequent contractions in the upper chambers of your heart.

These contractions also cause the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) to contract quickly, but not as fast as the atria. This mismatch of beats is what causes the heart to ‘flutter’.

The abnormality in the electrical circuit can be associated with:

How is atrial flutter diagnosed?

A OneWelbeck cardiologist will be able to make a diagnosis of atrial flutter by asking you about your symptoms and medical history, and performing a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG) ​​which records the electrical activity in your heart.

They may want to perform additional tests including an echocardiogram, blood tests, and associated appropriate tests to confirm a diagnosis and help identify the cause of the condition.

How can atrial flutter be treated?

Medications to slow down the heart rate are often the first line of treatment for atrial flutter.

If medications are not effective, your consultant cardiologist may perform a procedure called a catheter ablation to destroy any tissue that is creating abnormal electrical signals in order to terminate the electrical circuit.

Your cardiologist may wish to perform another procedure called a cardioversion. This procedure uses a small, controlled shock to the chest to provide short-term correction of the heart rhythm. However, the reason behind this would be discussed and this is not a definitive treatment.

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Jul 2024


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