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Cardiology Arrhythmias

Atrial Flutter Treatment in Dubai at CMC Hospital

Atrial flutter is an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia which normally occurs when the top chambers of the heart (atria) experience extremely rapid pumping as a result of a short circuit. Atrial flutter can cause a stroke that may lead to permanent disability or even death.

Types of Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter is often classified based on the location of the short circuit. Types of atrial flutter include:

  • Typical atrial flutter: This type occurs in the right atrium and is usually treated with a catheter ablation procedure.
  • Atypical atrial flutter: This normally occurs on the left atrium. Most forms of atypical atrial flutter are treated with catheter ablation. However, the process is more time-consuming and complex.

Symptoms of Atrial Flutter

Symptoms that present as a result of atrial flutter include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke

Complications Associated with Atrial Flutter

  • Blood clots: Atrial flutter renders the heart unable to pump blood efficiently. This slow flow of blood is likely to form clots.
  • Heart failure: Because a rapid heartbeat gradually weakens the heart muscle, it can easily lead to heart failure since the heart can’t pump enough blood to supply the entire body.

Causes of Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter can occur as a result of:

  • Cardiomyopathy: This is a disease of the heart muscle
  • Open-heart surgery
  • Hypertension
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Ischemia: This is a reduced cardiac flow resulting from coronary heart disease, hardening of the arteries, or blood clots
  • Hypertrophy: This is an enlarged chamber of the heart
  • Other diseases in the heart
  • Any substance that may change the way the heart transmits electrical impulses

Diagnosis of Atrial Flutter

To diagnose atrial flutter, a cardiologist performs a physical exam, checks the heart rate using an electrocardiogram (EKG), checks the blood pressure, and inquires about the patient’s family history. Additional laboratory tests, imaging tests, and non-invasive monitoring may be recommended, which include:

  • Electrocardiogram: This is the most commonly used test in the diagnosis of atrial flutter. It is used to measure and record the electrical impulses that control the heart.
  • Holter monitor/ambulatory EKG: The patient will be required to wear the monitor on the neck for a few days as he/she goes on with everyday activities. The test will reveal if the patient has significant arrhythmia, as well as the type.
  • Event monitor: This is a small device that one wears for a long time which can be turned on in the event one experiences any abnormality.
  • Echocardiogram: This is a painless ultrasound examination that uses sound waves to create an image of the heart in between heartbeats. It may also identify issues with blood flow or heart muscle injury.
  • Blood tests: These may look for additional causes of an irregular heartbeat, such as thyroid disease.

Treatment for Atrial Flutter

In most cases, atrial flutter usually goes away without the need for treatment. The doctor may, however, use the following treatment options if it persists:

  • Medication to prevent blood clots
  • Treatment for any underlying issues or conditions
  • Catheter ablation: This is a procedure performed in conjunction with an electrophysiological examination to eliminate the erroneous electrical pathways
  • Medications to control the heart rhythm (antiarrhythmic)
  • Cardioversion: This procedure is normally performed under anesthesia whereby a small, regulated shock is delivered to the chest to temporarily correct the heart’s rhythm.
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