WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Atrial flutter is a condition that causes the atria (top chambers of the heart) to beat much faster than they should. Normally, there is 1 contraction for every heartbeat. Atrial flutter causes more than 1 contraction for every heartbeat. Less blood is pushed into the lower chambers. The heart may not be able to fill with enough blood to provide good circulation with every heartbeat. Your atrial flutter may come and go, last for only a short time, or be a long-term condition. The problems you have because of your atrial flutter depend on how fast the atria are beating and your overall heart rate.
- Antiarrhythmias: These help slow your heartbeat and make it more normal.
- Beta blockers: These help keep your heartbeat in a regular rhythm.
- Calcium channel blockers: These help slow your heartbeat.
- Blood thinners: These help prevent blood clots. Clots can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death. Aspirin is a type of blood thinner. You may need to take an aspirin each day to help prevent blood clots. Do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than caregivers say to take. If you are on other blood thinner medicine, ask your primary healthcare provider before you take aspirin for any reason.
- Electrolytes: You may be given electrolytes in the hospital if an electrolyte imbalance caused your atrial flutter.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods: This may help you have more energy and heal faster. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Drink liquids as directed: Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Get plenty of exercise: Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. If you smoke, ask for information about how to stop.
- Manage stress: Stress may slow healing and cause illness. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have shortness of breath at rest.
- You have new or worsening swelling in your feet or ankles.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have pain, pressure, or fullness in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or returns.
- You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm.
- You have an upset stomach.
- You have a sudden cold sweat.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and are short of breath. You have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You cough up blood.
- You have a painful red lump in your arm or leg.
- You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.
- You are confused or have problems speaking or understanding speech.
- You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.
- You have vision changes or loss of vision.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.