Atrial flutter is another common arrhythmia (similar to atrial fibrillation) arising from the upper chambers of the heart. It is a rapid disorganized heart rhythm usually arising from a large short-circuit in the electrical wiring of the atria. This leads to rapid beating in the atria, and therefore poor pumping of blood from the atria into the ventricles. Since blood is not effectively pumped in the atria, blood clots can develop there which can result in a stroke. Blood thinners need to be considered for all patients with atrial flutter depending on various stroke risk factors.
Patients with atrial flutter may experience heart fluttering or racing, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and various other symptoms. Some patients may not experience any symptoms at all.
An electrical shock procedure called cardioversion can be performed under deep sedation to convert the flutter into a normal rhythm. Medications may be required to slow the heart rate down and/or to restore or maintain normal rhythm. Often times, atrial flutter is used generically to refer to a common type of rapid arrhythmia that arises from the right side of the heart. This type of flutter is often treated with a cardiac ablation procedure with a fairly high success rate.