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Atrial fibrillation / flutter

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is the most common of abnormal heart rhythm (arythmia) patterns. The condition can lead to heart palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congestive heart failure and even stroke. Atrial fibrillation can feel like your heart just skipped a beat or like butterflies are fluttering in your chest.

A-Fib occurs when the heart's small upper chambers quiver instead of beat in a regular pattern. When this happens, blood isn't pumped out of the chambers completely which can cause blood clots. If one of the clots leaves the heart and attaches itself to an artery in the brain, a stroke can occur. The quivering that happens in the chambers during atrial fibrillation can also cause the heart muscle to overwork itself, putting the person at greater risk for congestive heart failure. Potential complications make atrial fibrillation diagnosis and treatment screening extremely important.

How is atrial fibrillation treated?

There are several ways to successfully treat and even prevent atrial fibrillation.

  • Medications. There are many different oral or IV medications that a doctor can use to provoke a regular or more regular heart rhythm.
  • Electrical cardioversion. This procedure is used by cardiac electrophysiologists to electrically shock the heart back to a normal heart rhythm.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. This minimally-invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to destroy tissue that triggers abnormal electrical signals.
  • Surgery
  • Pacemaker implantation

Learn more about our anticoagulation clinic.

University of Colorado Health Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery is the region's leader in treating all conditions of the heart, including atrial fibrillation. For more information, call us at 970.221.1000







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