Learn the Basics of ACLS and Atrial Flutter for Effective Treatment

ACLS certification helps prepare medical professionals to treat heart conditions such as atrial flutter.

What is Atrial Flutter in ACLS?

Atrial flutter (Atrial Flutter) is an unstable tachycardia that occurs when the atria of the heart beat too quickly. The atria contract too quickly, which causes the heart to beat in a fast, but regular, rhythm. It is a common arrhythmia and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) protocols are used to treat this condition, and it is important for healthcare professionals to understand the signs, symptoms, and treatments associated with atrial flutter. This article will discuss the basics of atrial flutter, its treatment options, and how ACLS can help in managing this condition.

What are the different types of atrial flutter in ACLS?

Atrial flutter can be either typical or atypical depending on where the short circuit is located. These two types of atrial flutter present with identical symptoms but require different treatments.

  • Typical atrial flutter, mainly seen in the right atrium, can be quickly and effectively cured with a Catheter Ablation procedure. It is usually an outpatient treatment and requires minimal recovery time.
  • Atypical atrial flutter originates from the left atrium. Just like typical atrial flutter, this irregular heart rhythm can be managed through catheter ablation; however, the procedure is more complex and takes longer to complete.

RELATED: Atrial Fibrillation and ACLS Protocols

Doctors tend to a patient with ECG monitor in the background

Understanding the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Atrial Flutter

Knowing the risk factors and symptoms associated with Atrial Flutter can help you identify it early and seek proper treatment.

When the atria contract too quickly and the heart beats too fast, symptoms of palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, and/or dizziness can occur. However, Atrial Flutter can also cause no symptoms at all.

When monitored on an electrocardiogram (ECG), Atrial Flutter has a “saw toothed” pattern. The atrial rate is regular, however it is quite fast (250–300 contractions per minute). A rapid heart rate creates a shortened relaxation phase which prevents complete ventricle filling that causes decreased cardiac output. Also, decreased blood flow to the coronary arteries causes a reduced blood supply to the heart.

Prompt attention to Atrial Flutter is essential not only due to its associated symptoms, but also due to the potential for a stroke that could lead to permanent disability or even death.

RELATED: What Are the 3 Unstable Tachycardia Rhythms?

Diagnosis of Atrial Flutter in ACLS

A medical doctor may use an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to identify Atrial flutter during a regular check-up. If the diagnosis is still unclear, using a Holter monitor, event monitor or conducting an electrophysiological study may be recommended. An electrophysiological study involves light sedation and the placement of a narrow and flexible tube (catheter) through a vein to your heart. The catheter contains fine wires which can pinpoint the abnormal signal accurately.

Atrial Flutter on an ECG
Atrial Flutter on an ECG.
RELATED: How to Achieve ROSC in ACLS

Treatment for Atrial Flutter in ACLS

Electric cardioversion is one of the most effective treatments for atrial flutter, and it should be used as part of an ACLS protocol to ensure the best outcomes for patients. Medications and lifestyle changes can help manage atrial flutter symptoms and prevent future complications.

Determine if the tachycardia is producing severe symptoms and/or hemodynamic instability. Then, initiate treatment by establishing an IV, providing supplemental oxygen, and monitoring the heart. If there is any hemodynamic instability, induce synchronized cardioversion.

Also, the provider should decide if the tachycardic symptoms are due to any underlying causes such as noncardiac pain or an illness or if the fast heart rate is indeed due to acute cardiac distress. For example, tachycardia with a heart rate between 100–130 will often represent sinus tachycardia that is caused by an underlying systemic condition or injury, which would require certain specific treatments for that condition or injury. However, tachycardia with a heart rate over 150 BPM may cause symptoms that could quickly lead to an emergent situation requiring ACLS intervention.

a healthcare worker holds defibrillator paddles.

RELATED: The Asystole ACLS Algorithm and How it Can Help Save Lives

How ACLS Training Can Help You to Treat Atrial Flutters

Atrial flutters can cause serious health complications if left untreated. Fortunately, with the help of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) protocols, this condition can be effectively managed. ACLS protocols are designed to provide early and effective treatment for Atrial Flutter and other arrhythmias. They involve the use of pharmacological therapy, electric cardioversion procedure and other interventions to restore normal heart rhythm.

RELATED: Accredited ACLS Certification Renewal Online and How it Can Save You Time & Money

Get Certified in ACLS to Learn About Treating Atrial Flutters and Other Tachycardias

There is no better way to learn how to diagnose and treat arrhythmias than by taking an accredited Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification course.

With Medical ProCerts’ ACLS certification course, you’ll be prepared to achieve ROSC by learning how to:

  • recognize and provide treatment of a patient during abnormal heart rhythms and cardiac episodes.
  • correctly perform BLS.
  • understand ACLS algorithms and protocols.
  • work within effective team dynamics.
  • defibrillate with an AED.
  • know the methods of airway management.
  • understand normal heart anatomy and physiology to quickly identify and treat abnormal deviations.
  • recall drug dosages, access routes and contraindications.
  • and, provide post-cardiac care.

Sign up for an online, accredited, AHA-compliant ACLS certification course by going to www.medicalprocerts.com Get certified today!

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