The heart has four chambers. It has two upper chambers (atria) and two 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 leave 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 pushing 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
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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
Last reviewedDecember 2014by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.