Fluttering heart
Electrical impulses causes the heart to pump. Normally the impulse originates in the right upper chamber of the heart, called the right atrium.

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Definition

Fluttering heart is the heart beating in a noticeable pattern, usually irregular. The strict definition of "atrial flutter" refers to a specific definition of how the atria (upper chambers) of the heart beat in a type of irregular rhythm, and can only be diagnosed with an electrocardiogram ("heart tracing").

Alternative Names

Fluttering in chest, heart flutter, palpitations- fluttering.

Synopsis

Electrical impulses causes the heart to pump. Normally the impulse originates in the right upper chamber of the heart, called the right atrium. The electrical impulse moves from the upper chamber to the lower chambers which are called the ventricles. When the ventricles are stimulated, the heart muscle contracts and the heart pumps blood into the aorta and from there, throughout the circulatory system. Fluttering heart can be a dangerous and potentially unstable heart rhythm, generated from the atrium. If too many of the impulses in the upper chamber reach the ventricles, the result can be life-threatening.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Panic attack
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Ventricular septal defects
  • Thyroid storm
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Multifocal atrial tachycardia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Atrial flutter
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Digitalis toxicity
  • Alcoholism
  • Side effects of medications (theophylline)

Diagnosis and Treatments

A comprehensive evaluation by a physician will be necessary, including an electrocardiogram (EKG). Treatment will depend on your medical history, your symptoms and the underlying cause of the fluttering heart.

Call your 911:

If fluttering heart is accompanied by:

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling faint or passing out
  • Sweating profusely
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Gasping for air
  • Arm or jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel like pounding or racing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: September 13, 2007
Last Updated: September 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
Licensed from
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