Heart Palpitations: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Heart palpitations mean that kind of feeling when it seems like the heart is beating too fast, hard, skipping a beat or fluttering. Heart Palpitations can be felt in the chest, throat and on the neck. Sudden heart palpitations can be quite scary to a person because it gives such kind of a feeling which may cause panic. It can also be bothersome to the person although it doesn’t cause any harm most of the times. It goes away automatically after some time. There are many reasons which might be the cause of heart palpitation. Some of the known causes are stress, anxiety, over-consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. It may also happen during the pregnancy stages.

Most of the times, Heart Palpitations doesn’t carry any serious threat to the health of an individual but you should also be watchful because, on rare occasions, Heart Palpitations can be symptoms of some other serious heart-related problem. You need to seek medical attention if you have symptoms of Heart Palpitations and confirm if they are related to any sort of complications. Visit the doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms as mentioned below.

  1. Feeling of Dizziness
  2. Pain in the Chest
  3. Fainting
  4. Shortness of the breath

When you visit a doctor and explain the symptoms, you may be asked also to present your medical history, if any. The doctor may recommend for various tests to find out the exact cause of the condition. If the exact cause of the condition is found out on time then the doctor can prescribe appropriate medications to take care of the condition. In case, there are no complications involved for the heart palpitations then the doctor may advise you to change your lifestyle. You may need to consume less coffee, tea, alcohol. Similarly, it would be better to do meditation and relaxation therapies in order to reduce the stress levels.

Causes of Heart Palpitations

As mentioned earlier there may be various causes of heart palpitations. Most of the times, they might be nothing much to worry about but on rare occasions, they may be a symptom of some other underlying illness. In rare cases, the symptoms of heart palpitations may be related to the heart but most of the times when it is not related to the heart then it may be caused by some other causes which are as mentioned below.

  1. Heavy physical activity or involvement in sports or such activities.
  2. The huge amount of mental stress and overwhelming emotions like anxiety, fear, and stress. Symptoms of heart Palpitations may also be noticed during sudden panic attacks.
  3. Excessive consumption of caffeine and nicotine.
  4. Illegal use of narcotics like cocaine and amphetamines.
  5. Different medical conditions like thyroid disease, a low blood sugar level, fever, dehydration, anemia and low blood pressure.
  6. Changes in hormone because of thyroid disorder, anemia, low blood sugar, fever, low blood pressure or dehydration.
  7. Change in hormone before menopause or during menstruation or pregnancy.
  8. During pregnancy stage, palpitations can indicate towards anemia.
  9. A side effect of different types of medications like diet pills, decongestants, asthma inhalers or medicines which are taken to treat thyroid and prevent arrhythmias.
  10. The side effect of some nutritional and herbal supplements.
  11. Abnormality in levels of electrolyte

Heart Palpitations may also occur in people at times after eating a huge meal containing a lot of carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. Similarly, other type of food containing more amount of monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, or sodium can also be the reason behind heart Palpitations. Sensitivity to a certain type of food may also be a reason behind heart palpitations so if you have such condition after eating any food then it will be better if you keep a diary for recording what food you ate. It will be easier to avoid that food which causes the condition to you.

Heart palpitations may also be an indicator for other heart complications like arrhythmia. The conditions of the heart related to heart palpitations are as mentioned below.

  1. It may happen before a heart attack.
  2. be a sign of heart failure
  3. It may be related to problems in the valve of the heart.
  4.  be related to the problems in the muscles of the heart.
  5. It may indicate coronary heart disease.

Diagnosis of the problem of Heart Palpitations

For proper diagnosis on time, you must seek medical attention. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask for any information regarding the medical history. It is also necessary for the doctor to know about your lifestyle, diet and medical conditions including the medications that you are taking. The doctor may also want to know the typical conditions in which you have feelings of heart palpitations. You may be referred to a cardiologist or heart specialist if the doctor identifies any serious complications. There are various tests like the blood test and other tests that the doctor may recommend to diagnose the underlying problem of heart palpitation. Other tests which may be recommended are as mentioned below.

  • Electrocardiogram

This test can be done when the person is at rest or also during exercise. The test when done during exercise is called stress EKG. In this test, the heart’s electrical rhythm is recorded and then the unusual pattern is detected.

  • Holter monitoring

For this method, the patient has to wear a monitor on the chest. The monitor records the electrical signals of the heart nonstop for 24 to 48 hours. This method is much reliable than the EKG because it can also detect different patterns which are not detected by that method.

  • Event recording

The patient has to wear a device on the chest then a handheld gadget is used to find out the symptoms of the heart when it occurs.

  • Chest X-ray

It might be necessary for the doctor to check the condition of the lungs which may have been caused by problems of the heart. Presence of Fluid in the lungs may have been caused by a failure of the heart.

  • Echocardiogram

This is another useful method in which ultrasound of the heart is done. Information in detail about the formation and sound of the heart is gathered by this method.


Treatment of Heart palpitations

Treatment is possible only if the exact cause of the condition is diagnosed. Most of the times, the symptoms of heart palpitations go away automatically if it is not caused because of some other heart-related problem. They are harmless and require no treatment if it is not caused by heart-related complications. If the exact cause of the problem is not diagnosed even after doing all the tests then the doctor may advise you to stay away from stress, nicotine, caffeine and those things which cause palpitations. The most effective ways to get rid of stress is to do meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Guided Imagery, Aromatherapy etc. Similarly, different types of food like beverages and food which contain high alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine or illegal drugs should be totally avoided. It would be better if you stay away from medicines which work as stimulants. Those medicines an area cough and cold syrups or some other herbal supplements. Even if the symptoms do not stop by following these measures then the doctor may prescribe certain medications to you including beta blockers or calcium-channel blockers.

The doctor diagnoses some other reason to be behind the heart palpitations then he may prescribe medication and treatment to treat the underlying condition, in rear cases.

In certain conditions, the heart palpitations may also be caused as a result of some other medicines. In that case, the doctor may try to change the medication by prescribing alternate medicines. If the problem is caused because of arrhythmia then you may get certain medicines and the doctor may also refer you to another specialist who is known as an electrophysiologist.

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