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AF Association
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Hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was somewhat spoilt by very fast heart rate. Just been told today I have flutter now as well as my many other heart rate problems. Hospital did try to explain this to me but I am feeling very confused.

Can someone here please explain what this means for me and what is the difference between flutter and atrial fibrillation. Thanks a lot

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An effort to explain:

Fibrillation is much more common and is when the electrical impulses for muscle fibres in the top chamber of the heart (the atria) fire in an uncoordinated way causing the chamber to quiver and then the electrical impulses don't travel in the coordinated way to the ventricles. So the ventricles meantime will beat at an irregular rate.

In flutter the atrial impulses are short circuited in the atria and whizz around the atria at high speed (about 300/min) causing fast atrial contractions. Again the impulse to the ventricles are uncoordinated and again this causes an irregular ventricular rate.

Flutter will respond better to ablation and so this will be offered early in the treatment options, but otherwise management ofthe 2 conditions is fairly similar


I too have just been diagnosed with flutter,after iwas prescrived flecanaide for my fibrillation,and taken off betablocker at the same time in local hospital...not recommended.Now in the care of anEP after a blue light trip to a univerdity hospital.

Right:flutter happens in the right atrium..topquarter of the heart.It is avery fast rythym patternwhich goes round and roubd ina loop.There is a proceedure,ablation,which is straightforward and dtops it in 90-95% of cases,so myEP says.It canalso be controlled with meds.

Fibrillation is less easy to use the same technique on,because here we have sonething else going on.Our naturalpacemaker the sinus node sits in the top left part of our heart.We are blessed with multiple smaller areas which also sends out pace signals,creating chaotic beats and generally causing trouble potentially.Ablation success varies70-85% but you can have more than one attempt.Some people manage okwith just meds.

Hope this helps


Sorry for typos!!

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Flutter shows on an ECG as little sawtooth waves which are multiple P waves. As some of these are blocked on their way to the ventricles the ventricular rate is slower than the atrial rate but usually fast at 150.


Thanks to you all for replying so quickly. My flutter was caused by electrodes used in my pyeloplasty robotic surgery. My pacemaker wasn’t picking up that my heart rate was going 120-190 beats per minute and was trying to compensate for what it thought was my heart block. I think that is what the pacemaker technician was trying to tell me this morning. She has now opened up a programme in the pacemaker that was not being used and that can recognise the flutter. I don’t really understand it all but I do feel much better now. I think I will ask for a follow up appointment with the cardiac clinic at the same hospital as my pacemaker clinic is and where I had my recent surgery to see if the Sotalol medication and strengths are the best solution. I can always go and see my consultant at Papworth who carried out my ablation for AF in 2014.

Once again thank you all your your help and explanations

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