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Your heart has four chambers: the left and right atria, on the top, and left and right ventricles, on the bottom. To pump blood, each chamber has to squeeze in and out at just the right moment. To time all of this just right, your heart has a cluster of cells that sends little electrical impulses to each chamber. Sometimes those signals don’t move the way they should. That’s where atrial SVT flutter might come in.
Atrial and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) flutter is a fast heart rate that begins in the heart's upper chambers (atria). Abnormal electrical connections in the heart cause it to beat fast or irregularly. You can say that Atrial flutter comes from a "short-circuit" in the right atrium. This short-circuit causes the atria to beat at about 300 beats per minute while the lower chamber of the heart (the ventricles) beats at a slower rate (often 75 to 150 beats per minute). This causes the heart to beat inefficiently, and reduces blood supply.
Atrial fibrillation is sometimes confused with atrial flutter because it is also a common heart rhythm problem. But it is not considered a type of SVT. Unlike the more irregular atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter beats in a regular rhythm.
Many types of arrhythmia are not serious. Other types may cause the patient to develop heart failure, pass out or, in rare cases, to die suddenly.
Atrial and SVT flutter occurs most commonly in elderly patients and those with other types of heart disease. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms and increase the risk of developing a stroke.Some people have no or minor symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they can include:
Here are some common things that trigger SVT:
These risk factors make you more likely to have atrial flutter:
To diagnose atrial flutter, your doctor will want to record your heart rhythm with any of these tests:
It can be hard to capture atrial flutter when it happens on and off or only lasts a few minutes. The longer the recording time of heart rhythm, the higher the chance atrial flutter can be recorded.
Most cases of atrial and SVT flutter don't need to be treated. They go away on their own. But if an episode doesn't end within a few minutes, some possible treatments include:
Prevention of atrial and SVT flutter focuses on controlling or preventing risk factors:
Complications of atrial flutter can be serious if left untreated. See your healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms of atrial flutter.
Presbyterian’s Heart and Vascular team has many different options to help you manage your heart condition. The team performs various diagnostic tests and procedures to help form an accurate diagnosis and create individualized treatment plans for your heart health needs. Depending on the type of heart condition you have and its underlying cause, the team can recommend a wide variety of treatment options, including lifestyle modifications, medications, and procedures. Our cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons work closely together for cases in which surgery is the best treatment option. We also offer a customized cardiac rehabilitation program at our Healthplex, where clinically appropriate, which can improve your endurance and exercise tolerance, as well as improve heart-related symptoms. Your cardiologist will work with the rehabilitation team to create a plan that will be tailored to your individual health needs.