What is Atrial Flutter?

What is Atrial Flutter?

Anything that affects your heart is scary, especially when it’s not beating like it should. Arrhythmias not only affect how fast your heart beats, but the rhythm of the beating as well. It’s completely normal for your heart rate to increase during stress and exercise, but your rhythm shouldn’t change. There are many types of arrhythmias, and atrial flutter is one of them.

At Indus Cardiology, our team specializes in problems that affect your heart, with three locations to serve our patients in Pomona, Montclair, & West Covina, California. Dr. Yogesh Paliwal is our expert cardiologist, who offers EKG testing to determine if you’re in an arrhythmia. If so, Dr. Paliwal and his team get you personalized and compassionate treatment for your condition.

What is an arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias are problems that cause your heart to beat irregularly. Some arrhythmias don’t cause any symptoms at all, while others lead to major problems that require immediate treatment.

There are three main types of arrhythmias, and they are:

Supraventricular arrhythmias

These arrhythmias originate in the atria of your heart. Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation are examples of supraventricular arrhythmias.

Ventricular arrhythmias

The ventricles, or lower chambers in your heart, are the origin of these arrhythmias. Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation are types of ventricular arrhythmias.

Bradyarrhythmias

Bradyarrhythmias cause a slower-than-normal heartbeat. They’re often due to an issue in another area of the heart other than the ventricles or atria.

Understanding atrial flutter

Atrial flutter is an arrhythmia that originates in the top chambers of your heart. In this arrhythmia, something causes your atria to pump more rapidly than normal. 

The problem with atrial flutter is that there’s a problem with the electrical impulses, which causes the atria to beat too fast. This doesn’t allow the atria to fill the whole way in between each beat.

Atrial flutter also affects your ventricles. During this arrhythmia, the ventricles are also forced to beat faster than usual, although not quite as fast as the atria.

There’s a high risk of blood clots, because there’s blood that stays in the atria due to the rapid heart rate. A blood clot in the heart can lead to a heart attack or a stroke, both of which can be deadly.

There’s both typical and atypical atrial flutter. Typical atrial flutter originates in the right atrium of your heart. Atypical atrial flutter starts in the left atria of the heart.

Symptoms of atrial flutter

The signs and symptoms of atrial flutter differ from person to person. If you have episodes of atrial flutter, you may experience several symptoms, which include:

Although atrial flutter causes your heart to beat fast, the rhythm is usually steady. Unlike atrial fibrillation that changes your heart rhythm, atrial flutter is typically a regular pattern of beats, just faster than usual.

How is atrial flutter treated?

Dr. Paliwal and his team determine the best route of treatment based on your symptoms, overall health, and age. Not all atrial flutter needs to be treated. Sometimes, it simply goes away by itself. However, if the arrhythmia persists, Dr. Paliwal recommends:

Cardiac ablation

This procedure uses a flexible tube that’s inserted into a vessel in your neck or leg. The tube follows the vessel to your heart, where it’s placed near the area of the heart causing the arrhythmia. Radiofrequency energy is exerted, which damages and destroys the cells causing the problem.

Antiarrhythmic medications

These medications either control the rate or rhythm of your heart. Although they’re often less effective than an ablation or cardioversion, they can help to keep your heart from converting to atrial flutter.

Blood thinner medications

Anticoagulant medications help to keep blood clots from forming. Arrhythmias can lead to the abnormal clotting of blood, which is dangerous if one of the clots breaks off and travels to your heart or lungs.

Cardioverson

This treatment is done when you’re sedated. It helps to relieve the atrial flutter short-term. Cardioverson is when a small amount of electricity is delivered under a controlled setting. This resets your heart rhythm temporarily.

If you’re experiencing an arrhythmia, don’t hesitate to call Indus Cardiology to make an appointment with Dr. Paliwal. You can also schedule a consultation online using our convenient booking feature. 

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