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The upper chambers of your heart, called “Atria,” contract blood and pass it toward the bottom chambers, called “Ventricles.” If a short circuit occurs, that changes this contraction rate. Conditions like atrial fibrillation and Atrial flutter. The main difference lies in the pulse rate; atrial flutter is mild and has a low chance of clot formation or stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation

A healthy heart produces 60-100 beats per minute. AFib can change this heart rate from 100-175 beats per minute. There are two chambers in your heart: at the top, known as the Atria, and at the bottom, the Ventricles. When the electrical signals passing from the Atria to the Ventricles become irregular, it causes arrhythmia.

Atrial Flutter

During atrial flutter, the electrical signals are regular but faster than they are supposed to be. In this state, the atria beat faster than the ventricles, ranging to 300 beats per minute. An electrocardiogram (EKG) is performed to diagnose an atrial flutter.

Can You Have Both Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter?

About 1/3 of people who have Atrial flutter also have Atrial fibrillation. Both disorders are capable of increasing the chances of stroke. Whether you have AFib or Atrial flutter or both, only early diagnosis and the right treatment can save you from a stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation vs. Atrial Flutter

The most common difference between AFib and atrial flutter is that they both make your heart beat abnormally fast, but AFib always causes your pulse rate to go high, while atrial flutter rarely does.

  • Atrial flutter causes the transfer of electrical signals inside your heart to be regular. On the other hand,
  • AFib makes your heart race, such as 140-160 beats per minute.
  • Atrial flutter is rare, but AFib is common.
  • Ablation therapy is a widely used method to treat atrial flutter.
  • During ECG, a “sawtooth” similar to a zigzag pattern represents atrial flutter, while irregular ventricular rate represents AFib.
  • The indications of atrial flutter are weaker than AFib indications.
  • Even after treatment, individuals with atrial flutter are at risk of developing AFib.

Atrial Fibrillation Vs Atrial Flutter: Treatment Options

Treating AFib or Atrial flutter has the same goal, which is to recover from arrhythmia and stop blood clot formation. The available treatment options are:

  1. Medications: Your cardiologist can provide beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers to control the heart rate. Warfarin or blood-thinning medicines can prevent a heart attack or stroke. Medication is the first choice to treat AFib.
  2. Electrical Cardioversion: This involves giving an electric shock to restore the rhythm of your heart.
  3. Catheter Ablation: During catheter ablation, your healthcare provider utilizes radio frequency to eliminate the spot in your heart responsible for unusual heart rhythms. It is known as the best treatment for atrial flutter.
  4. Atrioventricular (AV) Node Ablation: This treatment targets and eliminates the AV node. AV node works as a connector between the atria and ventricles. Once this link is destroyed, a pacemaker will be installed to control your heart rhythm.
  5. Maze Surgery: Your cardiologist or surgeon performs this open-heart surgery to make tiny cuts in the heart atria.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether it is atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, heart problems are like pest control. They often require multiple treatment strategies. Your healthcare provider won’t sit back till they get rid of your cardiac issue.

Contact our Cardiac Healthcare leader, Dr. Philip L Berman, at Memorial Cardiology Associates. Our cardiologist has a special clinical interest in arrhythmia management. Call us at (713) 464-6006 to schedule an appointment.

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