Atrial fibrillation vs. atrial flutter
July 22, 2021
What is atrial flutter?
How is atrial flutter different from atrial fibrillation?
Many patients have both conditions as one rhythm can transition into another. In atrial flutter, the heart's top chamber does not empty effectively and is out of sync with the contraction of the main pumping chamber of the heart. The presence of this rapid rhythm, which typically conducts every two to three times down the lower chamber, increases the risk for developing a blood clot in the heart and consequently increases a patient's risk for stroke.
Importantly, both atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation may be associated with the risk for stroke, and use of blood thinners help reduce these risks.
How are atrial flutters treated?
Are atrial flutters curable?
The creation of a line by radiofrequency cauterization interrupts and unhinges the 'racetrack loop,' which permanently blocks the reentrant arrhythmia of flutter. This arrhythmia is one of the best understood mechanisms in human electrophysiology.
How is treating AFib similar to atrial flutter?
Ablation is also effective in 60% to 70% of AFib patients. We give patients the analogy that atrial fibrillation is like a pest problem in your home. We come in and we do a treatment and we can control the cases but frequently it requires multiple treatments. We start with the initial set of treatments and then we get more aggressive as the pest problem declares itself to be more and more stubborn. Current research seeks to understand the mechanisms of atrial fibrillation, which appear to come from multiple areas at the same time.
At the University of Chicago Medicine, our team uses special catheters that allow them to know how much force is being applied onto the tissue, which has been shown to improve the success rate for the procedure. We are one of only a handful of centers in the United States that provide a complete suite of approaches to AFib, including hybrid procedures with epicardial robotic surgery in conjunction with endocardial ablation. We also are able to utilize the most advanced mapping systems.
Why choose UChicago Medicine for arrhythmia treatment?
Patients also have access to a state-of-the-art arrhythmia lab, which is dedicated solely to the treatment of arrhythmias.
Gaurav Upadhyay, MD
An expert in cardiac rhythm devices, Gaurav A. Upadhyay, MD, cares for patients with arrhythmia, fainting (syncope) and heart failure. Dr. Upadhyay focuses on innovative electrical therapies in heart disease, including cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), MRI-compatible pacemakers, subcutaneous defibrillators and catheter ablation.Learn more about Dr. Upadhyay
At the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Arrhythmia Care, we work with each patient to deliver high-quality, personalized care, whether you are seeking a first opinion for your condition or turning to us as a last resort.Discover more about our arrhythmia program
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