Atrial flutter

Abnormal heart rhythm that starts in the atrial chambers of the heart

An arrhythmia is when electrical impulses cause the top chambers of your heart to beat faster than normal

What is an atrial flutter?

Atrial flutter (AFL) is diagnosed when a person has an abnormally fast heartbeat, caused by electrical impulses in the heart that causes its top chambers (atria) to beat faster than the bottom chambers (ventricles), meaning your overall heart rhythm becomes out of sync as a whole.

Some people confuse atrial flutter with atrial fibrillation (AF). However there is a clear difference, as with AFL whilst the atria beat is fast it remains regular, whereas with AF the atria beat is not only fast but also irregular.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of atrial flutter?  icon plus

    You may experience one or more of a range of symptoms that directly relate to atrial flutter.

    These include:

    • Blackouts or fainting (syncope)
    • Breathlessness
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Palpitations
    • Tiredness

    Atrial flutter can itself be associated with various underlying conditions, such as structural heart disease or cardiomyopathy. Factors such as stress, excessive alcohol and lung disease may also contribute. Often, people with atrial flutter also experience atrial fibrillation, when the atria becomes electrically chaotic. This renders the heart's natural rhythm irregular.

  • How is atrial flutter diagnosed? icon plus

    We have a number of outpatient tests available that can help diagnose atrial flutter. Your GP or consultant will firstly talk to you about the symptoms you have been experiencing.

    Based on this, they will recommend some or all of the following tests:

    We also accommodate 24-hour or longer electrocardiograms, where you will be required to wear a Holter monitor to provide more accurate reading of your heart activity and help to detect more intricate arrhythmias within your heart.

    Your consultant will also talk to you in detail about your test results and the next steps for further investigation or treatment if necessary.

     

  • Treating atrial flutter icon plus

    Based on the severity of your atrial flutter, your consultant will consider and recommend the most suitable treatment option for you. Our highly specialised cardiac facilities accommodate all treatments, which may include:

Our heart rhythm cardiologists

We're proud to work with leading cardiac and heart rhythm experts, who are experienced in diagnosing heart and rhythm disorders, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

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From complex cardiothoracic surgery to tests and diagnostic procedures, we provide exceptional cardiac care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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