Both Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are abnormal heart rhythms that involve the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. In atrial fibrillation, the atria receive disorganized and irregular electrical signals.
The atria beat out of control and coordination compared to the ventricles causing an irregular and rapid heart rhythm. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate can go as high as 170 beats per minute, and the normal heartbeat is just with 60 to 100 beats per minute.
On EKG, this is seen as a chaotic and erratic baseline with no discrete P wave between irregularly placed QRS complexes. In atrial flutter, organized but rapid electrical signals get to the atria. The atria beat faster than the ventricles. Atrial flutter has a specific “saw tooth” pattern on EKG.
Both terms are similar kinds of heart arrhythmia, which are related to an abnormal heartbeat and are exacerbated by irregular rhythms and sudden pulses. Afib and flutter occur when one of the regions of the heart, the atria beats at a faster rate. When the heart is in Afib or a flutter disorder, the atria do not contract in a synchronized manner.
The result is that the ventricles are not filled with blood to maximum capacity. When this occurs, it results in ineffective pumping of the blood, which leads to symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, chest pain, and palpitation. Afib can occur sporadically; however, in the worst cases, it taxes the heart consistently. Flutter may progress to Afib if the person who is suffering has a predisposition for specific illnesses.