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Atrial flutter is a type of heartbeat problem (arrhythmia) that usually causes a fast heart rate. In atrial flutter, a problem with the heart's electrical system causes the two upper parts of the heart (the right atrium and the left atrium) to flutter, or beat very fast. Atrial flutter might be diagnosed using an an electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper.
Treating atrial flutter is important for several reasons. The change in heartbeat can cause blood clots. The clots can travel from your heart to your brain and cause a stroke. A fast heartbeat can make you feel light-headed, dizzy, and weak. And over time, it can also increase your risk for heart failure.
Atrial flutter is often the result of another heart condition, such as coronary artery disease or some other heart rhythm problems. Making changes to improve your heart health will help you stay healthy and active.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help slow down your heartbeat. You may also take medicine to help prevent a stroke. In some cases, a procedure called catheter ablation is done to stop atrial flutter.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: April 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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