In atrial flutter, your heart's upper chambers (atria) beat too quickly. Atrial flutter is a type of heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) caused by problems in your heart's electrical system.

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have extensive experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating people who have atrial flutter and other heart rhythm disorders.
  • Team approach. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in treating heart conditions (cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular surgery) and other doctors work closely to evaluate and treat people who have atrial flutter and other heart rhythm conditions.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors actively conduct research in atrial flutter and other heart rhythm disorders and conduct clinical trials.
  • Technology. Mayo Clinic doctors use the most current technology in atrial flutter and heart rhythm disorder treatment, including catheter radiofrequency ablation.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular and thoracic surgery treat people who have atrial flutter at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Staff in the Arrhythmia Clinic and Electrophysiology Laboratory diagnoses and treats people who have heart rhythm disorders.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiothoracic surgery treat people who have atrial flutter at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Staff in the Pacemaker Service and Electrophysiology Laboratory performs electrophysiology tests and other procedures to diagnose and treat people who have heart rhythm disorders.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular surgery treat adults and children who have atrial flutter at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Staff in the Heart Rhythm Clinic evaluates and treats people who have heart rhythm disorders. Staff in the Electrophysiology and Arrhythmia Ablation Laboratory conducts electrophysiology tests and other procedures to diagnose and treat people who have heart rhythm disorders.

Appointments

For appointments or more information, call Cardiovascular Diseases at 507-284-3994 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form. No physician referral is necessary. Cardiologists generally can see most patients within two weeks after their appointment requests, and often cardiologists can see patients within a week or less after the appointment request. Patients with urgent issues can usually be seen within 24 hours after their requests. In emergencies, patients are directly transferred to inpatient hospital care.

U.S. Patients

Doctors trained in pediatric cardiology and cardiovascular surgery treat children who have atrial flutter or other heart conditions at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Staff in the Electrophysiology and Arrhythmia Ablation Laboratory conducts electrophysiology tests and other procedures to diagnose and treat children who have heart rhythm disorders.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in heart conditions (cardiologists), cardiologists trained in heart rhythm disorders (electrophysiologists) and other doctors evaluate and treat people who have atrial flutter and related conditions.

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and your medical and family history, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may order several tests to determine the cause and severity of your condition and determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

  • Blood tests. Blood tests may be used to check your potassium and thyroid hormone levels in your blood, which may lead to atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray takes images of your chest, heart and lungs, which may help your doctor to see if your heart is enlarged.
  • Echocardiogram (Doppler echocardiogram). In this test, sound waves create detailed images of your heart's size, structure and motion.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). In an ECG, doctors place sensor patches (electrodes) on your skin to measure the electrical impulses given off by your heart. An ECG measures the timing and rhythm of each electrical phase in your heartbeat.
  • Event recorder. An event recorder is a portable ECG device that you can activate when you experience symptoms.
  • Holter monitor. A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device that you wear for a day or more to record your heart's electrical activity during your daily routine.
  • Stress test. In a stress test, doctors monitor your heart using an ECG or other tests as you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. If you have difficulty exercising, your doctor may give you a drug to help stimulate your heart in a similar way as during exercise.

Doctors trained in heart conditions (cardiologists), heart rhythm disorders (electrophysiologists), heart surgery (cardiovascular surgeons) and other doctors collaborate to develop the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition.

Your doctor will determine your treatment based on your symptoms and condition. Atrial flutter treatment goals include restoring your heart to a normal rhythm, regulating your heart rate and preventing blood clots.

Your treatment may include several options.

  • Cardioversion. In cardioversion, your doctor may use paddles or patches on your chest to electrically shock your heart and help restore your heart's normal rhythm. Doctors also may use drugs to stop your heart's fast rhythm and restore a normal rhythm.
  • Catheter radiofrequency ablation. In catheter radiofrequency ablation, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) in a vein in your arm or groin and threads it through your blood vessels to your heart. Your doctor then applies heat (radiofrequency energy) through the catheter to destroy the abnormal heart tissue. Your doctor sometimes may conduct atrioventricular (AV) node ablation. In this procedure, doctors use radiofrequency energy to destroy the electrical connection between the upper and lower heart chambers (AV node), blocking the heart's electrical impulses. Once the AV node is destroyed, doctors then implant a small medical device (pacemaker) to establish a normal heart rhythm.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to control your heart rate or heart rhythm, or to prevent blood clots.
  • Pacemakers. Your doctor may place a pacemaker under your skin near your collarbone to help regulate your heartbeat.
  • Surgery. If other treatment isn't effective, your doctor may recommend maze heart surgery to disrupt the electrical signals causing the atrial flutter. In this procedure, your surgeon makes small cuts in your upper heart chamber (atrium) to help stop the disorganized electrical signals causing your condition.
  • Follow-up care. You'll need follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your heart rhythm and rate.

Doctors and surgeons who have training in heart rhythm disorders study diagnosis and treatment options for atrial flutter and other heart rhythm disorders. Read more about research on the research website.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo doctors on atrial flutter and other arrhythmias on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Mar. 17, 2011