Atrial flutter is a type of arrhythmia, which is the general term for a heart rhythm disorder. Atrial flutter is an arrhythmia related to atrial fibrillation, with the difference being the disturbance of electrical impulses in the top chambers of the heart are more organised in atrial flutter, whereas they are more chaotic in atrial fibrillation. Dr Andrew Jordan, is a private consultant cardiologist treating patients across Dorset, if you suspect that you have any type of arrhythmia it is important that you get it investigated swiftly and thoroughly, and Dr Andrew Jordan will be able to help you.
What is Atrial Flutter?
Atrial flutter is a heart rhythm disorder caused by a short-circuit in the upper chambers of the heart (atria); typically the right atrium. The short circuit causes the atria to beat too quickly, with some of these beats being transmitted to the lower chambers (ventricles) which then also beat too quickly. It is important to investigate further if you are experiencing symptoms of atrial flutter, as it can increase the risk of a stroke, which can be life-changing or even fatal.
What is The Difference Between Atrial Flutter And Atrial Fibrillation Disease?
Both atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation are types of arrhythmia, where the heart beats out of its normal pattern. Atrial flutter causes the heart to beat faster, but usually in a regular pattern, whilst atrial fibrillation almost always causes an irregular heart beat. Both conditions can be serious and ideally require treatment from a cardiologist.
How Serious is an Atrial Flutter?
Aside from the symptoms, which can be disruptive and unpleasant, the main risk with an atrial flutter is the increased risk of a stroke. Strokes can be extremely serious and sometimes deadly, so it is vitally important that your atrial flutter is swiftly diagnosed and treated to help prevent the risk of a stroke.
What Are the Risks of Atrial Flutter?
As well as the risk of a stroke from atrial flutter, there is also an increased risk of heart failure. With the heart muscle beating too fast, it is subjected to increased pressures and strains, which can ultimately lead to heart failure if left unchecked.
Who Gets Afib?
Atrial flutter can occur in people with no medical issues, or in people who already have other medical conditions. It becomes more common with increasing age and can occur in people who have had heart failure, heart valve problems, or who have had a heart attack. It is also common in individuals with high blood pressure or long-term lung disease. People with diabetes, thyroid disease, or a history of alcohol abuse can also be more susceptible to atrial flutter. In addition, a history of endurance sporting activity can also predispose people to atrial flutter, though it should always be remembered that exercise in general is an excellent way to keep your heart healthy.
Causes of Atrial Flutter
Atrial flutter is due to a short circuit within the upper chambers of the heart, typically an anticlockwise circuit within the right atrium. The short circuit can arise as a consequence of disruption of the upper chambers in people with known heart problems, but can also occur in individuals with otherwise healthy hearts.
Atrial Flutter Symptoms
Not everyone will experience symptoms with an atrial flutter. However, there are certain commonly reported symptoms, which if you are experiencing warrant further investigation. These symptoms may occur occasionally or more frequently, and it is helpful for your cardiologist if you make a log of your symptoms, so that they can get an understanding of any patterns or triggers for your atrial flutter. Symptoms can include palpitations, which may include a fluttering sensation in your chest, a rapid heartbeat, or a pounding sensation, shortness of breath and trouble exercising, anxiety and confusion, or unexplained tiredness. These are symptoms which can lead to a diagnosis though, sadly, sometimes the first symptom of atrial flutter is a stroke, which can be dangerous and devastating. It is important to be aware of one’s own health, and not dismiss symptoms as a one-off, or nothing to worry about.
Diagnosis of Atrial Flutter
If you suspect that you have the symptoms of atrial flutter or other arrhythmia, you should see a cardiologist swiftly to minimise your risk and begin treatment. When you come to see Dr Andrew Jordan, he will begin by taking a detailed history from you, to understand your overall health. Based on this, he will then carry out non-invasive diagnostic tests which will help to determine if you have a diagnosis of atrial flutter. The most common method of diagnosing atrial flutter is by an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which records and monitors the electrical impulses that control your heart beat. Further testing may be required, especially for intermittent (paroxysmal) atrial flutter. A Holter monitor or an event monitor will record your heart rhythm over a longer period of time, giving your cardiologist a detailed insight into your heart health. An echocardiogram may also be carried out, which uses ultrasound to examine the heart.
Atrial Flutter Treatment
Atrial flutter treatment aims to reduce the chance of a stroke, and hopefully prevent further occurrences of atrial flutter. Your treatment will vary depending on the detail of your arrhythmia and other health conditions. You can be treated with medications; certain medications can help to control the arrhythmia, whilst others can help to prevent the clotting of blood within the heart, which could cause a stroke. Two common procedures are catheter ablation and cardioversion. Catheter ablation interrupts the electrical short circuit pathway within the heart, whilst cardioversion uses a small shock to correct the heart beat. When you come to Dr Andrew Jordan, he will discuss the different types of treatment and advise on the best treatment for you and your atrial flutter.
When to Seek Medical Care for Your Heart
Your heart is the engine of your body — it carries out vital work, circulating blood around the body and keeping everything running smoothly. Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your heart. The earlier that we can treat atrial flutter, the better the success will be. If you are concerned, don’t wait around, but seek private treatment. Never feel that you are making a fuss about nothing, it is always better to get issues tested and checked out. When you come to Dr Andrew Jordan, Consultant Cardiologist, he will spend time with you to ensure that you get the best care and treatment for your heart. If you want to discuss your concerns, please contact Dr Andrew Jordan’s private PA, who will be happy to help on 01202 840594 or simply book your appointment online today.
You may be interested in reading other heart condition: Heart Palpitations