Atrial Flutter vs Atrial Fibrillation: Difference and Comparison

Our heart beats in a very synchronized rhythmic manner. Any disturbance in the form of irregular electrical signals or disrupted signal pathways may cause the abnormal beating of the heart, commonly known as arrhythmias.

Arrhythmias can be caused by the abnormal beating of the two atria or the two ventricles.

Key Takeaways

  1. Atrial flutter involves rapid, regular heartbeats caused by a single electrical circuit in the atria.
  2. Atrial fibrillation features irregular, rapid heartbeats due to multiple chaotic electrical circuits in the atria.
  3. Both conditions increase the risk of stroke and require medical management to prevent complications.

Atrial Flutter vs Atrial Fibrillation

In Atrial Flutter, the atria beat regularly, but faster than usual and more than the ventricles, while in atrial fibrillation, the atria beat regularly. In atrial flutter, the electrical impulses are organised, and in atrial fibrillation, the electrical impulses are chaotic.

Atrial Flutter vs Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial flutters refer to the abnormally fast beating of the atrium that is not in sync with the ventricles. The beats are conducted almost at double the ratio of ventricular rate.

However, these beats are in rhythm and appear continuously for some time before returning to the normal club-dub heartbeat.

Atrial fibrillation refers to the abnormally fast beating of the atrium that is not in sync with the ventricles. The beats are conducted at higher rates than the ventricular rate.

However, these beats are not rhythmic and are random, which appear for some time before returning to the normal club-dub heartbeat.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAtrial FlutterAtrial Fibrillation
Nature of BeatsThe beats of atrial flutter are fast but periodic.The beats of a trail fibrillations are fast and chaotic.
OccurrenceIt is not a very common heart disease like fibrillations.It is the most common type of heartbeat disease and more common than flutters.
Rate of BeatsThe heartbeat rate is almost 2:1.The heartbeat rate of atrial beating is increased.
SeverityIt is less severe of a condition than atrial fibrillations.It is more severe heart disease than atrial flutters.
ECG patternIt shows a distinctive saw-tooth patternShows a very irregular pattern.

What is Atrial Flutter?

Atrial Flutter is a type of arrhythmia suffered by people with heart disease and hypertension. It is a condition characterized by the sudden fast beating of the atrium.

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Only the atrium beats with an increased speed such that it’s the rate of beating us almost twice that of the ventricular beating. The numbers are almost like 300: 150.

The main reason for atrial flutter to occur is any form of damage to the pacemaker cells of the heart that does not conduct its function properly. This leads to an altered heart pace.

Sudden episodes of faster but repeated beatings occur that, if recorded in an Electrocardiogram (ECG), show a comb bristle or saw-tooth appearance.

Its symptoms include dizziness, fainting, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain or discomfort or, in severe cases, a stroke. However, the chances of getting a stroke from atrial flutter are less likely.

There are certain risk factors such as alcohol abuse, obesity, existing heart disease, birth defects, hypertension and such that can increase the chances of having this problem.

In case of atrial flutter, patients are advised to check their blood pressure and sugar levels. It is harder to catch and diagnose atrial glitter as it occurs momentarily. It can, in severe cases, turn into atrial fibrillations.

atrial flutter

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia suffered by people with high blood pressure and preexisting heart diseases. It is a condition characterized by the sudden fast-beating of the atrium.

Only the atrium beats with an increased speed such that its rate is much higher than the ventricular beating. The beats are almost 100-175.

The main reason for atrial fibrillation to occur is any form of damage to the pacemaker cells of the heart that does not conduct its function properly. This leads to an altered heart pace.

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Sudden episodes of faster but disorganized heartbeats may be faster at some times or slower at others. These episodes of unorganized heartbeats are recorded in several small and large spikes.

Its symptoms are similar to the previous condition. It includes dizziness, fainting, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, blood clot, and this blood can even cause a stroke.

Stroke is common in people suffering from Atrial Fibrillation. There are certain risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, heart failure, birth defects, alcohol or drug abuse, chronic lung disease or sleep apnea.

It is easier to detect atrial fibrillations as it lasts for a longer period and has more pronounced effects.

atrial fibrillation

Main Differences Between Atrial Flutter and Atrial Fibrillation

  1. Atrial flutter has organized controlled beating, whereas atrial fibrillation has disorganized uncontrolled beating making it unpredictable.
  2. Atrial flutter is more responsive to ablation therapy in comparison to Atrial Fibrillation.
  3. Atrial flutter is less common, whereas Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most common heart arrhythmias.
  4. Atrial flutter is a less severe heart condition, whereas atrial fibrillations are more likely to cause a stroke and thus are more severe.
  5. Atrial flutter can develop into atrial fibrillation. But atrial fibrillation does not tone down to atrial flutter.
  6. In the case of atrial flutter, the heartbeat is much faster than in the case of atrial fibrillation.
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References
  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199205073261906
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109785804976

Last Updated : 01 August, 2023

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21 thoughts on “Atrial Flutter vs Atrial Fibrillation: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article effectively highlights the importance of recognizing atrial flutter and fibrillation symptoms for timely medical intervention.

    Reply
  2. The description of the underlying causes and risk factors of atrial flutter and fibrillation provides invaluable insights into these conditions.

    Reply
  3. Thank you for explaining the differences between atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation in such a clear and concise manner.

    Reply

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