Atrial Flutter


The heart has 4 chambers. It has 2 upper chambers (atria) and 2 lower chambers (ventricles). Electrical signals regulate the heart beat. The signals also help the atria and ventricles work together in the same rhythm. The blood from the atria is pushed into the ventricles and leaves the heart to circulate to the rest of the body. Atrial flutter is a type of abnormal fast beating (arrhythmia) in the atria. These fast beats make it difficult for the atria to push all the blood into the ventricles. As a result, the ventricles push less blood through the body. Atrial flutter may be an acute or chronic disorder that comes and goes. Atrial flutter is not usually life-threatening when it is treated. However, it may increase your risk of developing blood clots and stroke. This condition can be treated. Contact your doctor if you think you may have atrial flutter.
Anatomy of the Heart
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Atrial flutter may be caused by the following:
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart surgery–atrial flutter is most common during the first few weeks after open-heart surgery
  • Disease in other parts of the body that affects the functioning of the heart, such as the lungs
  • Using substances such as caffeine, alcohol, diet pills, or certain types of prescription or over the counter medication that affect the electrical impulses of the heart
  • Stress and anxiety

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of atrial flutter include:Atrial flutter is more likely to develop in older adults.

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