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What treatments are available for atrial flutter?

  1. Atrial flutter can be treated with medication. In some people these medicines can be very effective. In others however, the medications are ineffective and may produce side effects. If you elect to take medication, your doctor will discuss the different options and the possible side effects of these medications.
  2. DC Shock. When the heart is in flutter it can be reverted to the normal rhythm with a “shock on the chest”. You receive a short general anaesthetic and the shock reverts the rhythm to normal in almost all cases. With this approach the possibility of the flutter returning remains present (approximately 50% of patients will have another episode of atrial flutter over the next year). In addition, most patients will also require a medicine to try to prevent the flutter coming back.
  3. Blood Thinning medication. Because of the risk that atrial flutter may return with the above treatments, most patients with atrial flutter will require blood thinning medication to prevent blood clots forming. At your doctors discretion this may either be with aspirin or warfarin.
  4. Radiofrequency ablation. This procedure carries a success rate of approximately 95% for curing the atrial flutter. The risk of the flutter returning at some time in the future is approximately 10%.

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Melbourne Heart Rhythm is the arrhythmia service at the Department of Cardiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. We are comprised of a team of highly trained and dedicated health care professionals specializing in heart rhythm management. We have a strong focus on patient education and patient centered care. Our arrhythmia specialists have an international reputation of excellence in arrhythmia research and clinical arrhythmia management.