What Are Palpitations?

The heart works in two stages to pump blood around the body. The left and right atriums in the upper section of the heart collect blood and pump it into the ventricles, the lower chambers of the heart. To work consistently and coordinately, the heart has its own electric system, to ensure the blood is pumped efficiently, and passes through in the right volume. This process makes us feel our hearts beating.

What are palpitations? Most of us have experienced palpitations at least once, so people may wonder: can it be something serious? Usually, people experience palpitation for lasting few seconds and will not show abnormal rhythm—arrhythmia, which can be causes by heart-disease, or the risk-factors associated with the development of heart-disease.When should you worry?

What Are Palpitations?

A palpitation is when your heart beats at an abnormal rate for your age and gender. Palpitations are a condition of a rapid thump of flutter in the left side of your chest (where your heart resides). It can refer to too fast or too hard heartbeat, kipping heartbeat or fluttering. This can be caused by numerous circumstances and events, only on some occasions are the palpitations due to an irregular heart-beat.

How do palpitations feel? You can feel that not only in your heart, but also in your neck and throat. Some people report that feeling is similar to bearing a tough punching.

What Can Cause Palpitations?

1. Intense Emotions

Feelings of intense emotions, such as anxiety, stress, fear or panic, can cause your heart to pound rapidly.

2. Energetic Physical Activity

When you exercise, your heart beat naturally increases so as to accommodate for the extra oxygen needed around the body. This increase in your heart rates can lead to premature heartbeats, wherein the heart beats early.

3. Certain Medical Conditions

There are certain medical conditions that can cause heart palpitations, includinglow blood sugar, certain instances of low blood pressure, dehydration, fever, anemia, and/or an overactive thyroid.

4. Changes in Hormones

If you've ever asked– what are palpitations? Why am I experiencing that? One of the possible causes can be hormonal changes within your body. During times of menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, you may experience palpitations, which should soon subside once you are no longer menstruating, going through menopause, or pregnant.

5. Stimulants and Medications

There are many medications that may lead to heart palpitations. Here we list several such medications for you to refer to.

  • Asthma medicine (inhaled)
  • Medicines used to cure underactive thyroid can cause palpitations when taken too much.
  • Medications for preventing arrhythmias. In some cases, medication that is offered to treat irregular heart rhythm may also cause some other irregular heart rhythm to form.
  • Stimulants medications that are available over the counter can cause palpitations. Usually, such medications include decongestants and certain nutritional supplements or herbal ingredients.
  • Other stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and illicit narcotics (such as amphetamines and cocaine) also can contribute to palpitations.

6. Heart Problems

On some occasions, heart palpitations may be caused by arrhythmias, a condition in which the heart beats too fast or irregularly. This is caused when the hearts electrical system does not work correctly. Less than half of people who experience palpitations can attribute it to arrhythmias, the chances are increased if you experience/have experienced the following:

  • Heart attack
  • ŸCoronary heart disease
  • Heart failure, heart muscle disease, or heart valve disease
  • Irregular electrolyte levels

7. Diet Issues

When askingwhat are palpitations, and how are they caused, it may also be due to your eating habits. Some people report palpitations after consuming high or moderate levels of sugar, fat, and/or carbohydrates. If you notice that you experience palpitations after eating a certain type of food, it would be wise to discontinue the consumption of that food.

When to See a Doctor

There are certain situations where it may be wise to seek the advice of a health care professional in regards to heart palpitations.

  • If the palpitations are new, unexpected, and/or persistent.
  • If you experience palpitations that are different from what you have experienced in the past.
  • If the palpitations are also accompanied by other symptoms like severe pain in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, unexplained sweating, or lightheadedness.
  • If you faint and pass out or almost pass out whilst experiencing heart palpitations.

Note: The latter two symptoms may require immediate medical attention. Yet, fluttering is relative common and not so serious, and small or mild chest pain is often experiencedduring heart palpitations.

Possible Tests to Expect for Diagnosis

1. ECG

Electrocardiogram, or ECG, is performed non-invasively; it involves the placement of probes on an individual's chest to closely monitor the electrical impulses of the heart. The test helps in detecting abnormalities regarding the heart rhythms, and may be performed whilst you are resting after the physical exertion (known as a stress electrocardiogram).

2. Holter Monitoring

This works much the same as an ECG, but it requires you to consistently carry a device on your chest (for around 1-3 days) that records the electrical impulses of your heart. This prolonged method of testing can be far more effective is recognizing palpitations than a regular electrocardiogram.

3. Event Recording

An event recorder is extremely useful in recording analytical data for your health care professional as it is worn whenever possible by the patient. The patient can press record at the time of palpitation. This apparatus maybe required for several weeks to ensure a broad analysis can take place.

4. Echocardiogram

This test involves an ultrasound of your chest, which can then portray an image on a monitor screen of the inner chambers of your heart, allowing for a close inspection for any possible complications.

How to Deal with Palpitations

Now that knowing the answer to what are palpitations? How can it be diagnosed? Here comes the next question, how can you deal with that condition? Treatment for palpitations varies on the cause of the condition. In most instances, the palpitations will cause no harm and will often stop with no need of medical intervention.

It may be suggested that you take steps to reduce your chances of having palpitations in the future, including:

  • Reduce our levels of stress and anxiety, and try to handle your emotions.
  • Avoid certain foods and toxins, such as foods that are high in fat, and cigarettes and alcohol, also try to not use medication/stimulants that may cause palpitations.
  • Certain medications (like calcium-channel blockers) can be prescribed by your doctor to help with your condition, if lifestyle changes do not prove effective.
  • If your palpitations are deemed to be caused by an underlying health condition, then mainly focus on treat the aliment. In some cases, an electrophysiologist, who specializes in the rhythms of the heart, may work with you to resolve your issues.
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