Most people have heard of atrial fibrillation or Afib. It’s a condition in which the heart beats in an irregular manner. However, you may not have heard of atrial flutter, another kind of abnormal heartbeat.
Atrial flutter is also referred to as AFL. It is a condition similar to Afib in that the heartbeats in an irregular manner. The difference between the two is that with AFL, the heartbeat is a bit more organized than it is with Afib.
Some people with AFL don’t experience any symptoms. But, even if they don’t, AFL still puts them at a greater risk for stroke and heart failure. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
The heart contains a kind of natural pacemaker called the sinus node. The sinus node is found in the right atrium. The sinus node is responsible for sending electrical signals that tell the upper part of the heart to beat. Normally, the signal is organized and causes the heart to beat in a regular pattern. When a person has AFL, the sinus node sends the signal, but it doesn’t move in the way it should. Instead, it causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat rapidly in succession, or flutter.
In a healthy person, the heartbeats between 60 and 100 times each minute. The hearts of people with AFL can beat up to 300 times in a minute.
-Coronary Artery Disease: Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood vessels that lead to the heart become narrow because of plaque build-up. The reduced blood flow to the heart can damage the muscles.
-Open-Heart Surgery: When a person has open-heart surgery, it can damage the heart’s tissues, causing scarring. Scarring can interrupt the electrical signals.
Atrial flutter is treated with medication, surgery, or a procedure in which the heart is shocked back into a normal rhythm.
If your older family member is diagnosed with AFL, elderly care can help them to manage the disease and feel safer at home. An elderly care provider can remind the senior to follow the doctor’s treatment advice and take prescription medications. Elderly care providers can also be a source of comfort since having a heart condition can be stressful. When an elderly care provider is present, your aging relative will know that help is available if needed.