Heart Palpitations

1 What are Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations are feelings of having a rapid, pounding or fluttering heart.

They can be triggered by stress, exercise or medication or in rare cases a medical condition.

Although heart palpitations can be worrisome, they are in most cases harmless.

In rare conditions, heart palpitations can be a symptom of  a more serious heart condition such as a an irregular heart beat (arrythmia), may may require treatment.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of heart palpitations include feelings that your heart is:

  • Skipping a beat
  • Fluttering
  • Beating too hard or too fast

An individual is also capable of feeling heart palpitations in the throat or neck as well as the chest.

These episodes can occur regardless of physical activity.

Palpitations are  infrequent and usually last only a few seconds.

They usually do not require any evaluation.

However, certain individuals with a history of heart disease and frequent palpitations are encouraged to seek medical assistance.

3 Causes

It is widely accepted that often the causes of heart palpitations cannot be found.

However, common causes of heart palpitations include:

  • Strong emotional responses,
  • caffeine,
  • nicotine,
  • fever,
  • hormone changes associated with mestruation,
  • pregnancy or menopause.

Taking cough and cild medications that contain pseudoephedrine.

Taking some asthma inhaler medications that contain stimulants.

Occasionally heart palpitations can be  a sign of  a serious problem, such as, an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) or an abnormal heart rythm or arrythmia.

Arrythmias  may include very fast heart rates (tachycardia) or unusually slow rates (brachycardia) or an irregular rythm.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Usually, you will be able to suspect heart palpitations and make a self-diagnosis, but it's imperative to get the second opinion of your doctor.

If you have heart palpitations with severe shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting, one should seek emergency medical attention.

If palpitation are brief and there are no other worrisome signs or symptoms.

Doctors can help one find out if palpitation are harmless or a symptoms of a more serious condition. When an appointment is made with a doctor it is always important  go prepared.

The following information can get one ready for an appointment with a doctor: When an appointment is made, it is important to ask if anything is necessary in advance, such as diet restrictions or fasting.

Writing down any symptoms experienced, including any that seem unrelated to heart palpitations. Writing down key personal information, including

Also include major stresses or recent changes in your life.

Making a list of medications, vitamins and supplements being taken. Being prepared to discuss diet and exercise habits, including challenges possibly faced in improving diet or moving more.

To make the most of the time with a doctor, writing down questions to ask.

For heart palpitations, some basic questions include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • What should I do if my symptoms return?
  • What tests will I need?
  • Do I need treatment and, if so, what?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Do you have brochures or other printed material I can have?
  • What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

The doctor is also in the position to ask questions.

The following must be anticipated:

  • When did you begin having heart palpitations?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Do your palpitations start and stop suddenly?
  • Does it seem like your palpitations have a pattern, such as occurring the same time every day or when you do a certain activity?
  • Does your heart still beat regularly during the palpitations?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Are you having other symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, or dizziness when you have palpitations?
  • Have you ever had heart rhythm problems before, such as atrial fibrillation?

Other tests doctors may perform include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG),
  • Holter monitoring which  is used to detect heart palpitations that aren't found during a regular ECG exam,
  • Event recording and echocardiogram, which  is an exam that includes an ultrasound of the chest, shows detailed images of the heart's structure and function.
  • Ultrasound waves are transmitted, and their echoes are recorded with a device called a transducer that's held outside the body. A computer uses the information from the transducer to create moving images on a video monitor.

5 Treatment

Heart palpations will be treated only in the scenario where a doctor finds a serious heart condition.

Doctors usually recommend any of their patients with heart palpation episodes to initially avoid triggers.

If one's palpitations are caused by a condition such as arrythmia. In this case, treatment will be focused of correcting the arrythmia.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent heart palpitations.

The most appropriate way to treat palpitations is to basically avoid any triggers.

These triggers can be avoided by reducing stress or anxiety by using relaxation techniques such as yoga meditation, deep breathing or aromatherapy.

Stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, some old medicines and energy drinks that can make the heart beat quickly or irregularly must be avoided.

Illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can bring on heart palpitations and therefore must be avoided.

7 Risk and Complications

The risks of experiencing heart palpitations increase in the following cases:

  • Having high levels of stress, an anxiety disorder or regularly occuring panic attacks.
  • Pregnant women are more likely to experience heart palpitations.
  • Taking medication that contain stimulants such as some cold, cough or asthma medicine.
  • An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), a heart condition such as arrythmia, heart defect or previous heart attack also contribute to the possible risk factors.
  • For palpitations caused by heart condition, possible complication may include: fainting and cardiac arrest. Rarely, palpitations can be caused by life-thretening arrythmias which can cause the heart to  to stp beating efectively.
  • If palpitations are due to atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of of beating properly, blood can pool and cause clots to form.
  • If a clot breaks loose, it can block a brain artery, causing a stroke. Heart failure. can result if  the heart is pumping ineffectively for a prolonged period due to an arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation.
  • Sometimes, controlling the rate of an arrhythmia that's causing heart failure can improve the heart's function.