What is the relationship of atrial flutter and fibrillation?

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1999 Apr;22(4 Pt 1):643-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1999.tb00506.x.


Animal models and human studies of atrial activation mapping and entrainment have considerably enhanced our understanding of the anatomical substrate for atrial flutter and created the basis for a definite cure with radiofrequency catheter ablation. As atrial flutter has now become a curable arrhythmia, emphasis is shifting to understand the most common arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation. Furthermore, from clinical observation, it is apparent that there is a relationship between atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter in patients with atrial arrhythmias. Techniques that have informed our understanding of the anatomical basis of atrial flutter may also be useful in understanding the relationship between atrial fibrillation and flutter, including animal models, clinical endocardial mapping, and intracardiac anatomical imaging. Thus, atrial anatomy and its relationship to electrophysiological findings, and the role of partial or complete conduction barriers around which reentry can and cannot occur, may be of importance for atrial fibrillation as well. Ultimately, the relationship between atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter may inform our understanding of the mechanisms of atrial fibrillation itself, and help to develop new approaches to device, catheter-based, and pharmacological therapy for atrial fibrillation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrial Fibrillation / pathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Atrial Flutter / pathology
  • Atrial Flutter / physiopathology*
  • Atrial Flutter / surgery
  • Body Surface Potential Mapping
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Atria / innervation
  • Heart Atria / pathology
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology
  • Humans