Anemia And Your Heart
Anemia, or a low hemoglobin level in the blood, is often linked to heart disease because the heart has to work harder to pump more blood and oxygen through the body.
Anemia is a blood condition in which the levels of hemoglobin are lower than normal.
Anemia usually occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells the cells that transport hemoglobin throughout your body.
In other instances, the red blood themselves may simply contain too little hemoglobin.
How Anemia Affects Your Health
When someone is anemic, the body doesn’t get the oxygen that it needs. If anemia is unrecognized and untreated, serious damage can occur in the organs.
- Feeling cold all the time, especially in the hands and feet
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Pale appearance
- Problems concentrating or performing at your job or in class
- Frequent headaches or dizziness
When anemia becomes severe, the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the decreased oxygen levels in the body.
What Causes Anemia?
While there are different types of anemia, they all are due to the same underlying problems insufficient red blood cells or lack of hemoglobin.
- Insufficient iron in the blood
- An inherited blood condition
- Lack of vitamins like B-12 and folate
- Another illness
- Rapid blood loss
Different Types of Anemia
The five most common forms of anemia are:
Are You At Risk for Anemia?
A number of risk factors increase the likelihood of developing anemia, including:
Anemias Impact on Heart Health
How To Treat Anemia Caused By Iron Deficiency
I typically recommend to my patients iron supplements that contain the ferrous form of iron, which your body can absorb easily. If you are seriously anemic you may need to continue taking iron supplements for up to a year. In this case, you should heed the following precautions:
Your doctor will monitor your red blood cell counts during treatment. If your anemia doesnt improve with iron supplements, he/she will look for some other underlying cause. In rare cases, your doctor may prescribe iron injections or give you iron intravenously. In extremely rare cases of life-threatening iron-deficiency anemia, treatment may involve a blood transfusion.
History And Physical Examination
The cause of palpitations often can be determined through a careful history and physical examination. Patients may describe palpitations in a variety of ways, such as a fluttering, pounding, or uncomfortable sensation in the chest or neck, or simply an increased awareness of the heartbeat. Because the patients description is often vague, knowing the circumstances, precipitating factors, and associated symptoms may be helpful for the physician in diagnosis. For example, a patient who describes single skipped beats is likely to be having benign premature ventricular contractions. The physician should consider the differential diagnoses of palpitations while questioning the patient. Certain clinical findings and possible associated conditions are listed in Table 2.
NOTE: The information in this table is based on clinical experience and not on the results of clinical trials.
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Heart Palpitations While Pregnant
Studies show that heart palpitations are common in pregnancy. Some women will experience heart palpitations for the first time during pregnancy. Others get them before they become pregnant, and continue to feel them throughout pregnancy.
Heart palpitations during pregnancy are usually harmless, but they can sometimes be a sign of a problem. Heres what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and complications of heart palpitations during pregnancy.
What Can I Do To Prevent Palpitations
Depending on the cause of your palpitations, these tips can help you have them less often:
- Reduce your stress level or biofeedback techniques.
- Avoid or limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Avoid or limit the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco/nicotine products
- Exercise on a regular basis .
- Avoid foods and activities that trigger palpitations.
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
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Essentials For Older People
Older people are at particular risk of side effects due to antiarrhythmic drugs. Older people are likely to have several health problems and take several drugs, and these drug combinations may put them at risk of side effects. In older people, the kidneys are less effective at filtering drugs from the blood, which contributes to the risk of side effects. Some older people may even need a pacemaker before they can take antiarrhythmic drugs.
Key Points About Palpitations
Palpitations are common, and they have many causes that range from harmless to life-threatening.
People who have other symptoms such as light-headedness, chest pain or pressure, or shortness of breath may have a serious problem and should see a doctor quickly.
ECG and certain blood tests are done.
Treatment depends on the cause.
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Take Iron Supplements If Your Doctor Recommends Them
You should only take an iron supplement if your healthcare provider confirms that youre iron deficient or are at risk for iron deficiency and cant meet your needs through diet alone.
If you do take an iron supplement, try drinking orange juice with it to boost iron absorption or using a supplement that includes vitamin C.
Keep in mind that taking iron supplements may cause some side effects. These include:
Chest Pains And Palpitations
A rapid heartbeat and palpitations along with feelings of anxiety may be connected to a lack of oxygen in the blood.
A consistently rapid heart rate is not good for your heart or for the rest of your body. When theres a low level of oxygen in the blood, the heart works extra hard to compensate. This puts a lot of pressure on the heart, which can cause it to beat faster, irregularly, and experience pain.
Untreated anemia can exacerbate underlying cardiovascular issues. Extreme cases can lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmurs, or even heart failure.
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Treatment For Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Once the reason you have anaemia has been found the GP will recommend treatment.
If the blood test shows your red blood cell count is low, you’ll be prescribed iron tablets to replace the iron that’s missing from your body.
The prescribed tablets are stronger than the supplements you can buy in pharmacies and supermarkets.
Youll need to take them for about 6 months. Drinking orange juice after you’ve taken a tablet may help your body absorb the iron.
Follow the GPs advice about how to take iron tablets.
Some people get side effects when taking iron tablets like:
- constipation or diarrhoea
- feeling sick
- black poo
Try taking the tablets with or soon after food to reduce the chance of side effects.
It’s important to keep taking the tablets, even if you get side effects.
Your GP may carry out repeat blood tests over the next few months to check that your iron level is getting back to normal.
Anemia Of Chronic Disease
The anemia cause that concerns me most as a cardiologist is whats called anemia of chronic disease. With this form of anemia, the body does not efficiently recycle iron from blood cells, so they do not live as long as they should. The body also stops responding properly to erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys thats responsible for boosting red blood cell production.
People with certain long-term medical conditions that involve inflammation, including some cancers and autoimmune disorders, hepatitis, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure often become anemic. In fact, a meta-analysis of 34 studies and more than 153,000 CHF patients found that 37.2 percent of them had anemia. After a six-month follow-up, 46.8 percent of the anemic patients died compared with 29.5 percent without anemia.
Anemia also causes reduced blood flow to the kidneys, which leads to fluid retention, which places even further stress on the heart. Additionally, chronic anemia can result in left ventricular hypertrophy, the enlargement and thickening of the walls of the left ventriclethe hearts main pumping chamber. This can worsen congestive heart failure and set up what researchers call a vicious cycle wherein CHF causes anemia, and the anemia causes more CHF, and both damage the kidneys, worsening the anemia and the CHF further.
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What Can Cause Heart Palpitations And Headaches To Occur Together
Medical News Today
Several things can cause heart palpitations and headaches to occur together, including low blood pressure, dehydration, and diet. Some conditions may require treatment, but the symptoms can pass on their own.
Heart palpitations are heartbeats that are more noticeable. For example, they can cause a pounding or fluttering feeling.
Headaches cause pain in the head, face, or neck.
Heart palpitations and headaches can occur together. This article will discuss several possible causes of this and how to treat them.
Some medications, including vasodilators and the calcium channel blocker nifedipine, can cause both headaches and heart palpitations as side effects.
Anyone who experiences these side effects from taking medications can talk with their doctor about trying other approaches.
Dehydration occurs when the body does not contain enough fluids or water, which it needs to function well.
Water is essential for bodily cells to function correctly. The body loses water through breathing, sweating, and urinating. When levels drop too low, however, it causes feelings of thirst.
Dehydration can cause a person to experience both heart palpitations and headaches.
Staying dehydrated can also cause other symptoms, including:
- a decrease in the volume of urine
- dark urine
- loss of consciousness
Other Causes Of Palpitations
In addition to anxiety, there are several other causes of heart palpitations. Palpitations can be brought on by:
- Alcohol. Having one or two too many drinks in a night can get your heart racing. People who rarely drink to excess, but do so at the occasional party may feel a fluttering in their chest later. This is sometimes called holiday heart.
- Caffeine. Each persons caffeine sensitivity is unique. You might drink three cups of coffee every morning and feel fine. A co-worker might try that and develop palpitations, headache, and other side effects. With the popularity of high-caffeine beverages, such as specialty coffees and canned energy drinks, researchers are learning more about how high levels of caffeine can lead to heart rhythm disturbances, high blood pressure, and other problems.
- Chocolate. Palpitations can develop from eating too much at one sitting. Overdoing your food intake at a dinner or other event can lead to a version of holiday heart. Chocolate is particularly associated with palpitations.
- Medications. Cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine may trigger heart palpitations and jittery feelings.
For some people, palpitations are signs of an arrhythmia, a problem with the hearts electrical system that controls your heartbeats. A normal, resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. There are several types of arrhythmias. Each type produces unique symptoms, including an irregular heart rate. Among them are:
Signs You Have Iron Deficiency
Iron is a very important mineral found in every cell of the body, which is why lacking it can cause both small and lasting health problems. The most important thing about iron deficiency is to find why there is a lack of it in the first place, Priyanka Pathak, MD, oncologist at Geisinger Health System, says. Replacing it is just like putting a Band-Aid on you have to find the real issue.
Other Symptoms Caused By Leukaemia
Anaemia is responsible for a diverse range of symptoms, many of which are also commonly associated with leukaemia. For this reason, it is extremely rare for heart palpitations to occur as a symptom on their own. One reason for the relative rarity of palpitations presenting as a symptom is that they only occur in very severe anaemia symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of concentration are likely to proceed this symptom as they develop sooner when anaemia is not as serious.
Weakness and Fatigue Cells in the body use the oxygen to fuel the combustion of sugar and fat, which produces the bodys energy. Without oxygen, the body cannot function properly, and this leads to the feelings of extreme tiredness, known as cancer-related fatigue.
Breathlessness Your body will automatically try and compensate for the lack of oxygen by breathing more heavily to replenish oxygen levels from the air.
Pale skin When oxygen binds to haemoglobin on the red blood cells, it forms a bright red substance known as oxyhaemoglobin, causing the blood to become bright red. Skin that is paler than a persons usual complexion may occur due to the reduced amount of oxyhaemoglobin in the vessels supplying the skin.
Keeping an eye out for these other symptoms of anaemia and connecting the dots between them may be crucial in spotting leukaemia early. Since anaemia is usually diagnosed using a full blood count, leukaemia can also be picked up at this stage.
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Magnesium Consumption And Heart Palpitations
Adults typically need to consume between 310 and 420 milligrams of magnesium each day. This nutrient can be found in a variety of fiber-rich, plant-based products. These include foods like legumes, beans, nuts and seeds. You can obtain large amounts of magnesium from foods like seaweed, hemp seeds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts and peanut products.
According to the National Institutes of Health, insufficient amounts of magnesium can result in cardiac problems like abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms. Magnesium deficiency also has the potential to cause hypokalemia or hypocalcemia .
Like potassium, large amounts of magnesium can also produce cardiac side effects. Excessive magnesium in your body can result in gastrointestinal issues, low blood pressure, palpitations and even heart attacks. Magnesium toxicity is rare, but when it occurs, it can result in death. You’re more likely to experience magnesium toxicity if you’ve taken magnesium-containing laxatives or antacids.
What Can I Do To Improve My Intake Of Iron
Its all very well discussing the symptoms of iron deficiency but the most important thing is how you go about treating it. In my blog, What happens when you are low in iron? I discuss the further ramifications of having low levels of iron but I also mention how you can go about easing the problem in a few easy steps.
Step 1 Improve your dietary intake: When it comes to iron deficiencies, often our diets are to blame. In recent years, vegan and vegetarian diets have soared in popularity and, while they can be extremely healthy, problems can arise if you dont know what youre doing. This is because iron is often found in meat-based sources such as beef, but this isnt to say it doesnt exist in plant form. Foods such as leafy green vegetables , pumpkin seeds and even substitutes such as tofu all contain a decent amount of iron. Beetroot juice is another option thats worth considering as beetroots are rich in vitamin C which can help to improve your absorption of iron.
Step 3 Consider a supplement: There are certain groups of people that will always be more vulnerable to iron deficiencies compared to others menstruating women are a key example, especially if they suffer from heavy periods. Thats why sometimes a supplement will be necessary but ideally, you want one thats going to be well absorbed and give you the right amount of iron that you need not too much or too little.
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Symptoms Of Anemia To Watch Out For
You may have no symptoms at first, or very mild ones. However, as anemia gets worse some telltale signs become apparent. Here are the most common ones.
Youre exhausted and weak
The most common symptom of iron-deficiency anemia is fatigue. Without enough oxygen being delivered to your cells you arent able to break down nutrients and make energy. Without energy, you continually feel tired and weak throughout the day and it can be difficult to complete your daily tasks.
You have strange cravings for things that arent food
People who are anemic may develop a syndrome called pica, which causes strange cravings for non-food items such as dirt, ice or clay. There are some theories as to why iron deficiency leads to pica, but the true cause is unclear. Research shows that the cravings seem to go away when patients receive iron supplements.
You get headaches or feel dizzy
Headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness can all be symptoms of anemia caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. For some people, this may even lead to fainting.
Your heartbeat is irregular
Heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat or an increased heart rate can be signs that your body is attempting to compensate for its lack of energy. By circulating blood faster your body is trying to spread around the small amounts of available hemoglobin in order to deliver more oxygen.
Youre short of breath
You have chest pain
Your legs tingle
Your skin is pale
Your nails are brittle
Your hands and feet are always cold
Cleveland Clinic Heart Vascular & Thoracic Institute Cardiologists And Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your abnormal heart rhythm depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. The following Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with Arrhythmias:
- Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing: cardiology evaluation for medical management or electrophysiology procedures or devices – Call Cardiology Appointments at toll-free 800.223.2273, extension 4-6697 or request an appointment online.
- Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: surgery evaluation for surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation, epicardial lead placement, and in some cases if necessary, lead and device implantation and removal. For more information, please contact us.
- You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
The Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute has specialized centers to treat certain populations of patients:
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