Atrial Flutter

Question:

For atrial flutter, what were the symptoms and signs you experienced? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Kari, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 06

I have unspecified atrial flutter. I have events about every 10 days or so. I have pain in my chest when I have the events. I sometimes feel a little short of breath after an hour or two. I think it's due to the anxiety of the event because when I take a few deep breaths and relax my shoulders it seems to get better. It also makes me have to urinate very often during these events. I wonder if this will ever go away or if I will have it forever. I'm pretty healthy except for this. My events last 1 to 4 hours.

Comment from: Clint, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: February 17

I have lived with arrhythmia (ventricular ectopic beats) and sinus bradycardia nearly all my life. I also have exercised keenly and continuously. I now realize (having been desensitized by the experience of life-long arrhythmia) I have been experiencing atrial flutter for many years, often merely triggered by innocuous things like the alarm clock in the morning, sudden unexpected exertion or changes in position, postprandial, and most lately, after strong exercise. Episodes may last 12 plus hours and heart rate at 130 plus and irregular. I take, nor have I ever taken any medication. In fact, I am reluctant to do so. I have recently acceded to an appointment with a cardiologist to determine the basis of the underlying putative conduction problem, chiefly because I am unable to exercise strongly if in atrial flutter and because of the sustained irregular tachycardia post-exercise. I continue to embrace life as fully and vigorously as I have always done.

Comment from: helen, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: September 09

Last week I fell backwards hard against a wall hitting an electrical multiple outlet on the left side of my back just below my rib cage causing pain and upon getting up, my heart was beating irregularly. I went to the emergency room, was diagnosed with atrial flutter (AF), given blood thinner and follow up appointments with cardiologist and sent home with monitor for 48 hours. I was told that the fall and blow to the back was not the cause of the AF (just a coincidence)! Atrial flutter stopped after 10 hours, and rate has been normal. I felt tired for a day and back is painful to touch and some movement, also a large bruise. I believe the fall and bow to my back precipitated the AF event.

Comment from: TX Redhead, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 01

I had my first (and hopefully only) atrial flutter event in July 2017, at 55 years old. My event was a paroxysmal cold-water swallowing induced atrial flutter. That's right, I swallowed a big gulp of ice-cold water (immediately after eating very hot food) and I essentially shocked my heart into atrial flutter via the vagus nerve sending a jolt past my heart. I immediately felt it happen and knew something was not right. I went to my room and took my blood pressure (BP) and pulse; 146/95 BP and 145 heart rate. My husband took me to the emergency room. After a thorough evaluation and administration of adenosine push I was diagnosed with atrial flutter. They tried to convert my arrhythmia with a 20 mg Cardizem push, which did not work. I was admitted for heart monitoring and IV Cardizem titration. I converted to sinus rhythm shortly after my admission and titrated off the medication over 4 hours. TTE and stress test were normal, as were all my lab work results. Cardiologist referred me to an electro-physiologist and we are working on a plan of care. I have idiopathic premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) in the left ventricle. I just did a 24 hour Holter monitoring and am awaiting the results. I was diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea after doing a 24 hour WatchPAT home sleep study and I just completed a CPAP titration sleep study. I will be fitted with a CPAP in the coming week(s) to help with that problem (I had no idea). If my PVC load is high, we will explore why (maybe do a cardiac MRI to rule out pathology that TTE cannot), and then very likely do a radio frequency ablation, which is the optimal course of treatment because it resolves both conditions: atrial flutter and PVCs. I am on a very small dose (12.5 mg) of metoprolol ER to help with my BP and I'm also committed to a heart-healthy diet plan and goal of 25 to 30 lb. weight loss going into 2018. I hope to have a healthier New Year and I'll let everyone know how it's going!

Comment from: Jean, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

My atrial flutter was diagnosed in February 2016 while having an EKG before a D and C. I had been fatigued and short of breath, but thought it was my weight. I had to see a cardiologist before they would do the D and C. I was ok to have the D and C, no problems. That cardiologist also sent me to an electrocardiologist since a flutter is a disruption of the electrical part of the heart. You should know I am a 56 year old female, weighing 400 lb and 5 ft 6 inches tall. I was already on high blood pressure medicine, a water pill, and an aspirin a day when diagnosed. The cardiologist scheduled an atrial ablation and put me on Xarelto before the surgery. I have anxiety and am claustrophobic so my regular doctor also had me on Paxil. I had read about flutters online, and I even watched a video of the procedure. I read about what can happen afterwards; don't, mostly bad experiences. My procedure was on July 22 at 7:45 am and I was put under. I woke up in recovery 3 hours later. You have to stay in the bed and on your back at a 30 degree angle or less. I thought this was going to be awful because of my claustrophobia. It wasn't. The feel of the rapid heartbeat that was so constant in my chest is gone. I now realize what I had felt in my chest was the rapid heartbeat of a flutter. I'm not as tired now 4 days after. I can stay up all day. I had what I called 'hot pipes' the first 2 days; thirsty so I drank cold water and a lot of popsicles. Only issue is when I lay down at night. My chest hurts some and feels like I can't breathe normal, tight. As soon as I get up and wait 5 minutes to see if it continues, it goes away. I am on a CPAP machine so there is plenty of air. Just a little disconcerting. I am scheduled to see the cardiologist who did the ablation in 4 weeks.

Comment from: Francis, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 06

My atrial flutter was discovered by an EKG during a physical. I exercised regularly, my heart is strong and I had no real symptoms except occasional extreme tiredness after performing especially hard physical labor. I had a heart ablation on an outpatient basis at a hospital and went home the same day. After 2 weeks taking it easy, I was cleared for all activities. My blood pressure and pulse both dropped significantly after the procedure and my latest checkup and EKG were normal. I take a blood thinner Eliquis as a preventative. I would advise all seniors to take an annual physical and be sure it includes an EKG.

Comment from: ericaverill, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: June 27

Because of atrial flutter I have lethargy and I exercise intolerance.

Comment from: Papa, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: August 30

4 years ago I woke up with a rapid heart rate and chest pain. At the ER I was diagnosed with atrial flutter. After several changes of meds I was placed on Topral. Over time these spells of lightheadedness became worse but even a new cardiologist seemed stumped. EKG, ultrasound and stress tests were normal and finally 2 years ago. I was diagnosed with POTS and taken off of the Topral so that my B/P wouldn't drop so much. Needless to say after much frustration we have found a new Dr. who finally put me on an event monitor, bingo I have atrial flutter and I am now scheduled to see an electrophysiologist in 2 weeks for a probable ablation. I may still be having other vasovagel problems but at least I am thankful that my wife wouldn't give up and finally found a cardiologist who is not only listening but actually doing appropriate tests to find the problems. So our advice is if you aren't getting treatment find the very best Dr. at major medical teaching facility.

Comment from: Suzie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 15

My a/f generally happens following a meal containing acidy or fatty food especially if I have alcohol, however I can go months without one then have 2 or 3 in a week. My heart rate goes up to nearly 200bpm and my blood pressure sores. I don't have any other symptoms thankfully and my consultant told me to go to ER if it doesn't go back to normal within 6 hours. I take bisoprolol when it occurs and clopidogrel and simvastatin everyday. When I am free of the AF I try to forget about it and carry on with life as normal but when it happens oh dear I think I am going to die! Unfortunately the doctors don't know what part of my heart is affected because the last time I was in ER and had an ECG they lost the read out! So I have to wait for another attack and go the 20 miles to the nearest hospital.

Comment from: 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 21

Two weeks following aortic valve replacement I felt several preventricular contractions and then a pounding heart at a rate of 160 beats per minute. Patient instructions following surgery said to go to the emergency room immediately if the heart rate went above 150. In the emergency room it was confirmed that I had atrial flutter. Luckily I converted to normal sinus rhythm on my own about 16 hours later, just before they were to take me in for cardioversion. Apparently, the inflammatory response that occurs during healing following cardiac surgery can lead to these arrhythmias. I was placed on Sotalol for several weeks and haven't had a recurrence (it has now been over two years). I have no other cardiac abnormalities - just a really leaky aortic valve that lead to the surgery.

Comment from: me2, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 18

I was at work and I am a nurse. I felt faint my hands went numb my vision became blurry and I started sweating and shaking and could feel that my heart was not beating right. My nurse manager hooked me up to the defaulter to get an ekg reading and immediately had me wheeled to the ER. Upon arrival I was hooked up to a heart monitor and I was having atrial flutters. Mystery solved. I am now set to have a halter monitor next week with follow up care and was placed on a beta blocker, I am only 30 and this has scared me to death. At first I thought low blood sugar boy was I wrong. Now I guess I just have to wait and see what is going to happen now.

Comment from: YamaBlonde, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 27

My 1st AF episode was, just prior to an upcoming (very) stressful event. I had only a few episodes over several years, at one point more than 2 years between episodes. Then I had 5, longer-lasting episodes within 7 weeks. I was a wreck, mostly from fear. I had an aortic valve replacement in January, hoping it would stop the AF (doctors told me it was unrelated), which it was not. I was, at one point however, without any AF for 10 months, so docs took me off warfarin. An AF episode happened 3 months after discontinuing blood thinners, and back on warfarin. I am now taking a beta blocker. With more frequent AF now (only 1 week between some episodes), my beta blocker has been doubled. I am terrified of ablation, but I guess that will be the next option. I was taking amiodarone for 7 months, prior to the valve replacement, but doctors say it isn't a long term solution.

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 27

I wore the kings heart monitor. At the beginning my blood pressure was 150 and pulse 166, then another reading was 168 and pulse 150. The heart monitor people called an ambulance. Results: Fluttering; sinus rhythm; tachycardia; PVC; atrial fibrillation and heart out of rhythm. The heart doctor put me on Diltiazem 180mg twice a day; Coumadin 5mg every other day and 2.5 the other days; amiodarone 200mg a day. The last AF, I got very week and felt like fainting, so that's when he upped my medicine. I was getting very sick at my stomach with the amiodarone so now I only take a half. Now my feet and ankles are swelling and has been for awhile; my heart doctor didn't seem concerned, but I am very concerned. I will call. I have read that Diltiazem can cause legs to swell. If I still have AFib in 6 months, my doctor wants to do the TEE and I'm a little concerned about that. I had rheumatic fever as a child and prolapse mitral valve.

Comment from: Silverqueen, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 23

I have an implantable loop recorder implanted just below the skin on top of my left breast. Since October 2015, this device has confirmed those 'weird' heart flip flops, tachycardia, etc., and now it appears cardiac ablation might be my best option.

Comment from: peddro, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 11

I have lone atrial flutter. It was very scary, but now I am ok. I have tried all kinds of medicines which in most cases have quite unpleasant side effects.

Comment from: Tinker, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 05

I experienced no symptoms at all. I went to my new doctor. She wanted to run an EKG, and it showed atrial flutter, so she sent me to a heart specialist. I had cardioversion which got me back to normal rhythm. Lately, I've had no problems at all. I started on Warfarin, and I didn't get stabilized on Warfarin for 6 months or so.

Comment from: Phoenix, Ariz., 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 02

On May 28, 2011, I experienced an episode of AF for the first time. It happened while I was attending an outside graduation event in the sweltering heat of Arizona. When the situation occurred I felt faint and almost passed out. Luckily a nurse was on board who took my pulse and blood pressure and immediately called for an ambulance. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with AF, with a heart rate of 190. I was put on medication through an IV to bring down my heart rate to no avail. I eventually had a cardioversion procedure that corrected the problem---I thought.

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 02

I stood up and felt strange. I went to bathroom and felt like I couldn't breathe and that I was going to faint. I had to fight to hang on. When I got back to office down hall, I couldn't breathe. My heart was racing and beating fast and irregular. My pulse was 110. I went to ER where they ran tests.

Comment from: 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: February 21

My Atrial Flutter started when I had the flu. I had shortness of breath, light-headedness and felt weak and tired. However, when I recovered from the flu, these symptoms continued. I sometimes get very red and flushed in the face, I feel like my head will explode. I thought I was having "anxiety" attacks but my sister who is a cardiac nurse suspected I had an irregular heart rate. She took me to a cardiologist who performed an EKG in his office and diagnosed me.

Published: February 23

I have atrial flutter, and any activity causes me to be short of breath.

Comment from: Eve, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 05

I started have atrial flutter about three years ago on and off. During these recent months, I have been feeling the more often and I get so scared because I feel like I'm going to die. I am going to have my heart monitored to see what the doctor can do next. I really hope there is a cure for this because this is the scariest thing I have ever felt in my life.

Comment from: Dianne J, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

I have atrial fibrillation (ten years) controlled by Sotalol. However I have just had an experience of dizziness and nausea along with the 'flutter', also weakness and tiredness. At times like these it is easy to 'panic' and read perhaps more into it than there is, I hope I'm right in thinking this. On this occasion I have simply abandoned all my plans and rested.

Comment from: Walt, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 26

I went for my yearly physical and all went well until the EKG. They said your atrial flutter is back. They called and I was able to see the doctor that performed my first two ablations. The EKG showed atrial flutter. He put me on coumadin until I could be seen at the hospital the next week. I had absolutely no symptoms, blood pressure was normal and heart rate was 58 to 60 beats per minute. My first ablation was after I discovered my heart was beating at 150 beats per minute. I felt dizzy and out of sorts. My second ablation was after I felt an elevated heart rate of 100 beats per minute and found it with my blood pressure monitor. I got no irregular heart rate with my current condition, still don't on my blood pressure monitor.

Comment from: MRW, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: April 05

The first time I had atrial flutter, I woke up in the middle of the night and my heart was racing. I did not experience any chest pain, but I was short of breath. It felt like I had just worked out. I lay in bed for awhile and finally got up and went to ER. I was taking some OTC cold and cough medications, and the doctors at the ER attributed the AF to that. Well a week ago I had my second bout of AF. The only thing I take is an OTC multivitamin; I no longer take any decongestants, and I monitor my caffeine intake. I work out 4 days a week, and have no other medical problems. I was sitting at home one evening and stood up, that is all it took. It was AF again.

Comment from: JWC, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: March 08

My husband noticed an occasional rapid heart rate - that would resolve on its own. Was also experiencing anxiety at night, and feeling warm. (A new problem.) I took prednisone for a muscle problem, and the rapid heart rate came back and lasted longer. Thought it was a side effect of the prednisone and went to see the doctor. While in the office, they took an EKG and saw the atrial flutter.

Comment from: Dickey, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

For years I had from time to time the feeling of low blood sugar. I would eat something and the feeling would go away. I thought it was no big deal and the symptoms occurred several times a year but I had no further symptoms. Then one day I had palpations that did not go away for about 6 hours. We were out of town and when we came home, we called our doctor and he sent me to the emergency room. By the time we got there the symptoms had subsided and I was sent home. About 2 years later, I had another long episode of the flutter and this time arrived at the Emergency Room is plenty of time for them to document what was happening. That led to ultimately getting ablation to my heart... fascinating to watch on the monitor as the doctor guided the camera and something to cauterize the misbehaving electrical element in my heart. The thing that now concerns me is all the people who have atrial flutter and do not know it but assume that the feeling of low blood sugar was just that as they go on with the day. For me the symptoms have been a part of my life for 40 years and I suppose at any time there could have been serious complications, including death. So I am telling anyone who will listen what it felt like and to pay attention to it. PS... the procedure was long but painless and very interesting.

Comment from: Annie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 27

I have had type 2 diabetes for several years controlled by tablets. Recently I felt dizzy after walking quickly, was out of breath, but did not actually faint. I had three similar attacks always after walking quickly (I have a stenosis in my right leg). I was diagnosed with an irregular heart beat and rapid pulse, admitted to a cardiac ward for treatment and am now currently taking warfarin. My condition is being closely monitored by the hospital.

Comment from: Dede, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

My first symptom of atrial flutter occurred while playing soccer. Winded, short of breath as if out of shape, overexertion. Then noticed my heartbeat going crazy. I laid down and began to break into cold sweat. Experienced pressure and pain in chest, upper back, and neck. Light headed. After 30 min, the symptoms didn't stop, and I went to the ER. I was hooked to a heart monitor--230 BPM. Administered IV Adenosine 3X. That didn't work. Then administered another medication, which finally worked after 5 minutes. The doctors could not figure out the cause. I think it was from taking Diprovan with Adderall (this issue was serious side effect). I had been taking Adderall for three years with no issues. Diprovan was the only thing new (five days into it flutter occurred).

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 13

I am 54 years old, have had atrial flutter for 20 years. My cardiologist says it's from an ASD repair, (hole in my heart) repaired at age 10. It triggers from the area that I had surgery. I guess it's common for this to appear years later. I agree it is very frightening when it happens, and I'm considering ablation procedure, which they claim is very successful. It seems to happen when I'm tired, stressed, or for no reason at all, it can last from 1 to 7 hours.

Comment from: Old Warb, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: January 19

I have 140 beats per minute heart rate, breathlessness and I am unable to lie down due to fluid in my lungs, and chest pain. It feels very similar to heartburn.

Patient Comments & Reviews

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Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease

REFERENCE:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is Atrial Fibrillation?" Updated Sep 18, 2014.
<https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af>

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