Atrial flutter in the young: a collaborative study of 380 cases

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1985 Oct;6(4):871-8. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(85)80497-6.


As children with cardiac disease grow older, atrial flutter becomes more prevalent. A collaborative study was performed in 19 institutions to determine the clinical characteristics of these children and the factors affecting prognosis. There were 380 patients with one or more electrocardiographically documented episodes of atrial flutter that first occurred between ages 1 and 25 years (mean age at onset 10.3). Episodes of flutter continued to occur for a mean of 2.5 years after the onset. Of the 380 patients, 60% had repaired congenital heart disease, 13% palliated congenital heart disease, 8% unoperated congenital heart disease, 8% an otherwise normal heart, 6% cardiomyopathy, 4% rheumatic heart disease and 2% other lesions. Overall, drugs were effective in eliminating atrial flutter in 58% of patients; specifically, amiodarone and digoxin plus quinidine were effective in 53%, digoxin alone in 44% and propranolol in 21%. Amiodarone was effective in seven (78%) of nine patients. Corrective surgery was performed after the onset of atrial flutter in 66 patients; in 52% the atrial flutter was easier to control or it resolved and in only 4% it was worse. At follow-up (mean 6.5 years), 83% of the patients were alive (49% without atrial flutter and 34% with atrial flutter) and 17% died (10% suddenly, 6% of nonsudden cardiac cause and 1% of noncardiac cause). Cardiac death occurred in 20% of those for whom an effective drug could not be found to eliminate atrial flutter compared with 5% of those who were treated with an effective drug (p less than 0.001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Flutter / complications
  • Atrial Flutter / diagnosis
  • Atrial Flutter / drug therapy
  • Atrial Flutter / surgery
  • Atrial Flutter / therapy*
  • Child
  • Death / etiology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology
  • Digoxin / therapeutic use
  • Echocardiography
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans


  • Digoxin