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, including:
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- 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 may sometimes use drugs to stop your heart's fast rhythm and restore a normal rhythm.
Catheter ablation. In catheter ablation, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a vein in your arm or groin and guides it through blood vessels to your heart. Electrodes at the catheter tips can use radiofrequency energy to destroy these hot spots, scarring the tissue so that the erratic signals are normalized. This corrects the arrhythmia without the need for medications or implantable devices.
Your doctor rarely 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 and 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 the maze procedure to disrupt the electrical signals causing the atrial flutter. In this procedure, your surgeon makes small cuts in your upper heart chambers (atria) 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.
- Atrial flutter. Heart Rhythm Society. http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Heart-Diseases-Disorders/Atrial-Flutter#axzz2wFpvHKyW. Accessed March 4, 2014.
- What is an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/. Accessed March 4, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 13, 2014.
- Phang R. Overview of atrial flutter. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 4, 2014.
- Cheng J. Atrial flutter: Maintenance of sinus rhythm. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 4, 2014.
- Ganz LI. Control of ventricular rate in atrial flutter. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 4, 2014.
- What is atrial fibrillation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af/. Accessed March 17, 2014.