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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 electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). An ECG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper.
Treating atrial flutter is important to prevent stroke, heart failure, and reduce symptoms you may be having. The change in heartbeat can cause blood clots. The clots can travel from your heart to your brain and cause a stroke. Over time, atrial flutter can also lead to weakening the heart's pumping function (heart failure).
Although some people may not have any symptoms, atrial flutter can make you feel light-headed, dizzy, and weak.
Atrial flutter is often the result of another heart condition, such as coronary artery disease or heart valve problems. Making changes to improve your heart health will help you stay healthy and active.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help relieve your symptoms, help slow down your heartbeat, or help lower the amount of atrial flutter you have. You may also take medicine to help prevent a stroke. For some people, procedures to stop atrial flutter, electrical cardioversion or catheter ablation, may be recommended.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. With follow-up care, most people with atrial flutter are able to live full and active lives. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.
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Adaptation Date: 8/19/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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