Did your heart skip a beat?

  • January 4, 2022
Heart palpitation

Sometimes you may feel like your heart is pounding too fast or too hard, or that you just skipped a beat. That means you had a heart palpitation. It’s not always a red flag for a serious problem and should normally disappear on its own. Sometimes though, it might require medical attention and treatment to prevent recurrence.

What are the common symptoms of heart palpitation?

Palpitation symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the more commonplace ones are:

  • Skipping a beat
  • Heart beating too fast
  • A sense of rapid flutter
  • A thumping beat, harder than normal

You might feel the unusual sensations in your chest or neck areas or even in your throat, while standing or in a prone position.

Most often, the symptoms would go away spontaneously. However, please seek emergency medical help if you experience any of these:

  • Pain or heaviness in the chest
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Nausea or lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • No fever, yet a pulse rate of over 100 while not exercising
  • You are a diabetic, have a high cholesterol count or hypertension
  • If you experience an unusual type of palpitation

What are the known causes of heart palpitations?

The common causes can be segregated into non-cardiac and cardiac triggers:

Non-cardiac causes

  • Stress, sense of fear and emotional upheaval
  • Extreme anxiety
  • An overdose of caffeine, alcohol or smoking
  • Substance abuse like cocaine or amphetamines
  • Endocrinal changes linked to pregnancy, menopause or periods
  • Overstraining while exercising
  • Certain medicines like decongestants, cough or asthma medications and inhalers
  • Dehydration, fever or electrolyte imbalance
  • Hypoglycemia, low blood pressure or thyroid disorders
  • Allergic reactions

Cardiac causes

  • Irregular heart beat or arrhythmia
  • History of heart attack
  • CAD or coronary artery disease
  • Valve or muscle issues in the heart
  • Heart failure

How are palpitations diagnosed?

If palpitations become frequent and worrisome, there are some tests to try and identify the cause. These could be:

  • Certain blood tests: Changes in some blood parameters might help identify the problem
  • EKG or Stress Test: An electrocardiogram while resting or during exercise can record heart signals which might be conclusive
  • Holter monitor: In this test, the patient needs to wear a monitoring machine on his/her body for 1 or 2 days. This device records the heart’s activities
  • Event recorder: This is another wearable device that the patient needs to wear for a longer period to record and provide the doctor with a more detailed picture of the heart’s activities

Can one stop or prevent heart palpitations?

If the palpitations don’t go away, it’s important to find out the root cause to try and stop or prevent such events. Here are some simple tips:

  • Cut out stress: If stress is causing problem, find a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. You can try out yoga, meditation, some sporting activity – whatever works for you.
  • Avoid trigger foods, medicines: Steer clear of food items or medicines that might be causing palpitations. Quit dependencies like smoking or caffeine if that helps.
  • Eat well and hydrate: Have a balanced diet, stay active and well-hydrated.
  • Identify and treat the cause: Work with your doctor to identify the specific offending factor and the doctor will suggest a treatment tailored for that cause.

How are heart palpitations treated?

If treatment is required, these are the usual options:

  • Medicines: The doctor may prescribe anti-arrhythmic drugs like beta-blockers
  • Catheter ablation: By this process, wires are used to trigger arrhythmia and then transfer energy to the targeted area to stop the irregular heartbeat
  • Electrical cardioversion: This process uses electric shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm

Heart palpitations are not unusual and normally not a worrisome event. More often than not, this discomfort will disappear on its own. However, if palpitations become a persistent niggle causing anxiety and apprehension, then it is advisable to see a doctor so that the real cause can be identified through diagnostic tools and appropriate treatment administered.

Medica Ranchi provides comprehensive diagnostic, treatment and rehab facilities for heart complications related to irregular heartbeat, including electrophysiology and pacemaker implant services.

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