Atrial flutter is a type of tachycardia -- abnormally fast heartbeat -- in which the atria beat too rapidly. This condition results from disturbances in the heart's electrical system. While similar to another type of tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, in atrial flutter, the heart beats in a more organized and less chaotic way than it does in atrial fibrillation. Though an individual with atrial flutter may not experience any symptoms, this type of tachycardia can cause serious complications including heart failure and stroke. People can typically avoid complications with proper treatment.
The heart contains four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria while the two lower chambers are called ventricles. The sinus node, located in the right atrium, is the heart's natural pacemaker. It creates electrical impulses that initiate each heartbeat. From the sinus node, the electrical impulse goes across the atria, causing the muscles to squeeze and pump blood into the ventricles. The electrical impulse reaches the atrioventricular node. The atrioventricular node slows down the electrical impulse so the ventricles can fill up with blood. The ventricle muscles then squeeze and pump blood to the rest of the body.
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