8 Symptoms of Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter is used to describe an abnormal heart rhythm common in adults. This condition originates from the upper atria of the heart beating too fast, thus throwing them out of sync with the lower ventricles of the heart. Atrial flutter shares a lot in common with the even more prevalent atrial fibrillation. Atrial flutter differs from atrial fibrillation in that its pattern is regular, even though both share a common disjointed rhythm. Other medical conditions (such as heart failure, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, alcoholism, and diabetes) can increase your risk in developing atrial flutter. This is why it is important to keep track of your health, particularly when a preexisting condition can affect your heart.

While some individuals may not exhibit symptoms thanks to atrial flutter’s lack of an abnormal electric signal pattern, there are a few key signs of atrial flutter to look out for, including: tachycardia (elevated heart rate); an irregular heart rate; heart palpitations; dizziness; lightheadedness; dyspnea (shortness of breath); fatigue; and the sensation of near-fainting. While atrial flutter is not inherently life threatening, if left untreated, these symptoms of atrial flutter can quickly increase your chances of complications. If the heart is not effectively pumping blood (which is what is happening during prolonged atrial flutter), then your body is more likely to begin forming clots that could lead to a number of more deadly conditions. Understanding the symptoms that go along with atrial flutter and knowing how to recognize them could be the difference between continued health and heart failure.

1. Tachycardia

From the Greek for “swift heart,” tachycardia is, put simply, when your heart rate becomes elevated at rest. You might feel as if your heart is pounding or racing in your chest uncomfortably if you are experiencing tachycardia. During atrial flutter, the electrical impulses in the heart are irregular, which causes the atria to begin beating more quickly (but more weakly) than the ventricles. A normal at-rest heart rate for a healthy adult can be anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute. During exercise or periods of high physical activity, it is common for the heart rate to rise above 100. But if your heart rate is over 100 at rest, you are experiencing tachycardia, which could be indicative of a much worse internal health issue.

A fast heart rate can lead to other symptoms, such as lightheadedness, chest pain, and in some cases even fainting. There are a number of causes that can trigger tachycardia, including: heart disease, anemia, increased stress, high blood pressure, fever, and, of course, atrial flutter. The primary danger of tachycardia is that during an episode, the heart is unable to effectively pump oxygenated blood through the circulatory system. At prolonged intervals, this can lead to serious complications.