Palpitations Overview & Definition:

In palpitations, people have sensations that their heart is beating too hard or too fast or irregularly. A person feels that his or her heart is beating abnormally. The feeling is like the heart is racing, pounding or fluttering. A person can have this sensation in the throat, chest or neck. There is a possibility that the rhythm of your heart changes during palpitations. Generally, heart palpitations are harmless and do not need a treatment to get settled. They get resolve on their own. But there can be some rare cases in which heart palpitations can cause a serious problem. Mostly, heart palpitations occur due to stress, anxiety, drinking beverages containing caffeine, intake of nicotine or consumption of alcohol. Pregnant women generally feel heart palpitations. In rare cases, it can cause a serious heart problem. So, as soon as you experience any of the symptoms or signs of palpitations, you should see the best doctor around you in order to avoid any complication that may arise in the future. You should book an immediate appointment with the doctor if heart palpitations come with various signs including shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and fainting.

Palpitations Symptoms:

Check out various symptoms of palpitations:

-  In palpitations, people feel irregularity in their heartbeat. They may feel that their heart is racing, pounding or fluttering.

-  Sometimes, people can feel the fullness in the chest or throat.

-  Blood pressure may fall due to a fast heartbeat. Low blood pressure causes lightheadedness and a sensation that you may faint or pass out.

-  Shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating are some of the other symptoms or signs of palpitations.

-  Syncope (fainting) is also the symptom of palpitations. In syncope, a person is out of consciousness for some time.

Causes of Palpitations:

There can be many causes of heart palpitations. There can be various heart related or non-heart related cause of palpitations. Check out various causes of palpitations:

-  Panic attacks often lead to palpitations. Other causes can be strong emotions including stress, anxiety, or fear.

-  Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or illegal drugs including cocaine and amphetamines can cause palpitations.

-  Various medical conditions can lead to heart palpitations. These medical conditions include thyroid disease, low blood pressure, fever, dehydration, and a low blood sugar level.

-  Hormonal changes which occur during menstruation, pregnancy, or just before menopause can make your heartbeats abnormal. Sometimes, pregnant ladies suffer from palpitations due to anaemia.

-  Certain medications can lead to palpitations. These medications include diet pills, asthma inhalers, decongestants, some drugs used to prevent arrhythmias, or some medicines taken to treat an underactive thyroid.

-  Some herbal and nutritional supplements can also cause palpitations.

-  Abnormal electrolyte levels can also lead to palpitations.

-  Palpitations can occur due to various heart diseases. Various heart conditions that can make your heart rhythm abnormal include prior heart attack, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart valve problems or heart muscle problems.

How is it diagnosed?

As soon as you discover the symptoms or signs of heart palpitations, you should reach out to best doctor for the diagnosis. It is hard to diagnose the heart palpitations especially if they do not occur when you are with the doctor. Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination in order to understand the cause. The main focus of physical examination is on the heart and lungs but may also consider other organs of the body if needed. He may ask you questions about physical activities, health conditions, stress levels, prescription medication use, over-the-counter medication use and supplement use. Your doctor may ask you to visit a heart specialist known as a cardiologist if required. Various tests that are conducted to diagnose the test:

- Blood tests: Blood tests are done to know the exact underlying cause of heart palpitations. Tests are generally done for complete blood count (CBC) or hemogram looking for anaemia (low red blood cell count), electrolytes, kidney, and thyroid function.

- Electrocardiogram (EKG): The small sensors (electrodes) are attached to your chest or arms to record the heart’s electrical activity. The limitation of this test is that it provides information for a limited time. If your doctor requires more information to diagnose your problem then he may ask you to use portable ECG devices.

- Holter Monitor: It is a portable electrocardiogram device. It allows you to record the heart’s electrical activity for a longer period of time. With the Holter monitor, the electrical activity of the heart can be recorded for around 24 hours. This device is used when your doctor needs more information.

- Stress test: In this, extra stress is given to your body in order to check how your heart responds to the work hard. Stress is given in the form of exercise may be on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. Your heart activity is monitored during the workout.

- Other tests: The other tests that can be done include urine tests, chest X-ray (to check if the heart is enlarged), echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), electrophysiology study (to check the electrical function of heart), a coronary angiography (to check how blood flows through the heart).

Prevention of Palpitations:

Check out various ways to prevent yourself from heart palpitations:

-  Avoid the situations that give you stress. If you are under stress then use various techniques to manage your stress including relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and yoga.

-  Keep a track on your blood pressure & cholesterol level and keep them under control.

-  Have a balanced and healthy diet.

-  Reduce the intake of beverages that contain caffeine.

-  Do physical exercise daily.

-  Quit smoking.

-  Don’t use tobacco products.

-  Reduce or avoid the consumption of alcohol.

-  Sometimes, palpitations occur due to certain medications. Before taking any medicine, go through its side effects.

Treatment of Palpitations:

-  The treatment totally depends on the underlying cause of heart palpitations.

-  Generally, the problem of palpitations is harmless and gets resolve on its own. In that case, treatment is not needed.

-  If after doing the physical examination and various tests, your doctor discovers no cause then he may ask you to follow a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent yourself from the heart palpitations. Check out the various strategies:

-  Relaxation exercises, yoga, tai chi, biofeedback, guided imagery, and aromatherapy are some of the common ways to ease oneself when in stress and anxiety.

-  Reducing the intake of food, beverages, and other substances that can lead to palpitations including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and illegal drugs.

-  Avoiding the medicines that can cause heart palpitations including cold and cough medicines, and certain herbal and nutritional supplements.

-  If changes in lifestyle do not help to control the symptoms of palpitations then your doctor may prescribe you some medications. Beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers are prescribed by doctors in some cases.

-  If your doctor finds out the cause of palpitations then the treatment will be given according to that cause.

-  Sometimes, certain medicines lead to the problem of heart palpitations. If you are suffering from palpitations due to the intake of some medicines then your doctor will provide you with some alternative for that.

-  If your doctor finds out that you are suffering from arrhythmia then your doctor may prescribe you some medicines or procedures. Your doctor may refer you to the specialist of heart rhythm known as an electrophysiologist.

Complications

Generally, no medical treatment is required to treat palpitations until and unless a heart condition is its cause. If the pounding or fluttering feeling in your heart is caused due to a rigorous workout session or anxiety then no medical assistance is required. Palpitations caused due to other reasons like emotions such as stress, tension or anxiety get cured with time and have no severe complications. Same is the case with palpitations caused due to medical conditions like anaemia. However, if a heart condition is the cause of your heart palpitations then there is a possibility of severe complications and it involves great risk in contradiction to all the reasons other than a heart problem. These risks may include the following:

- Stroke: Sometimes the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating and pumping blood properly (atrial fibrillation) which causes the blood to form clots. These blood clots may fall loose and block a brain artery which in turn can cause a stroke.

- Fainting: Heart beating rapidly drops the blood pressure and may cause a person to faint. The probability of fainting is more if you have a heart problem, such as valve blockage or any other congenital heart disease.

- Heart Failure: A person can suffer a heart attack due to palpitations if your heart is not beating properly and you are suffering from pounding or fluttering feeling for a prolonged time period. This may be due to an arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation. Sometimes by controlling the rate of arrhythmia which is causing heart failure helps a lot in improving the way your heart functions.

- Cardiac Arrest: Cardiac arrest is very rarely caused by the palpitations. It is the rarest situation where a life-threatening arrhythmia causes your heart to stop breathing effectively and results in cardiac arrest.

Myths

Palpitations are caused by heart attacks.

The various reasons for palpitations include doing workout which requires great effort or force, intake of caffeine, and alcohol. Sometimes emotions like stress, tension, over thinking, or excitement may also lead to palpitations. The side effects of some medicines or medical conditions like anaemia may also be a reason for palpitations. The feeling of palpitation is very strange and brings a person into a condition when it feels like the heart is about to burst out of the chest. One may also feel that the heart is pounding or fluttering. A heart attack or failure may result in palpitations but it is not the only reason for it. As it starts with dizziness, chest pain, trouble in breathing so one must keep all the symptoms of palpitations in mind and should not consider heart attack as the only reason.

Conclusion

Palpitations make a person feels that the heart is beating too hard, too fast or irregularly. Excess intake of alcohol, smoking, drinking beverages containing caffeine, taking more stress and more are some of the causes of palpitations. You can prevent yourself from palpitations by making some changes in your lifestyle. In order to get prevention, you should quit smoking, reduce or avoid alcohol, reduce the consumption of beverages containing caffeine, do physical exercises daily and use stress management strategies in case of anxiety or stress.

In most of the cases, the problem of palpitations is harmless which does not require any kind of treatment. It gets sorted on its own. But sometimes, it can lead to serious complications. If a heart problem is the cause of heart palpitations then there is a possibility of severe complications. So, you should consult a doctor as soon as you experience the symptoms or signs of palpitations. Irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, low blood pressure, syncope, lightheadedness and fullness in the chest or throat are some of the common symptoms of palpitations.

If you are looking for answers to various questions including:

-  What are palpitations?

-  What are the causes, symptoms, and complications of palpitations?

-  What is the treatment for palpitations?

-  How can palpitations be diagnosed, and prevented?

Then you are in the right place, please refer to the above-mentioned information.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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