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How serious is atrial flutter?

Atrial Flutter is the second most common heart rhythm abnormality, after atrial fibrillation. It tends to occur in patients over 60 years of age, often with a coexisting disease of the heart’s valves or the lungs. Atrial flutter, like atrial fibrillation, can lead to various symptoms including shortness of breath, palpitations and dizziness. Being in atrial flutter may increase your risk of stroke, which is one of the most serious complications of any heart rhythm abnormality.

Atrial flutter on its own, without symptoms and without any risk factors for stroke, maybe tolerated for several months or years. However, if you have a pre-existing illness such as heart failure or significant lung problems, like severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, then being in flutter could abruptly lead to a significant worsening in breathing. If this is the case, please seek urgent medical attention.

Patients with flutter and at least one or more of the following risk factors for stroke will normally be offered anticoagulation therapy such as apixaban, rivaroxaban, dabigatran or edoxaban. These risk factors include Age>65, Previous stroke or mini-stroke (or TIA: transient ischaemic attack), hypertension, diabetes, previous heart attack or claudication, heart failure.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, and you have an atrial flutter, please see your doctor, who is likely to recommend anticoagulation.

Dr Boon Lim will be able to provide a thorough assessment through state-of-the-art diagnostic tests and provide a comprehensive treatment plan, including catheter ablation.  Contact Dr Lim now to arrange an appointment.

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