At The Doctors Office
Your doctor will:
- Give you a physical exam
- Take down your medical history
- Want to know about your current medications, diet, and lifestyle
- Ask for specifics about when, how often, and under what circumstances your palpitations occur
Sometimes, a blood test can help your doctor find the cause of your palpitations. Other useful tests include:
Electrocardiogram: This can be done while youâre at rest or exercising. The latter is called a stress EKG. In both cases, the test records your heart’s electrical signals and can find unusual heart rhythms.
Holter monitoring: Youâll wear a monitor on your chest. It continuously records your heart’s electrical signals for 24 to 48 hours. It can identify rhythm differences that weren’t picked up during an EKG.
Event recording: Youâll wear a device on your chest and use a handheld gadget to record your heart’s electrical signals when symptoms occur.
Chest X-ray: Your doctor will check for changes in your lungs that could come from heart problems. For example, if they find fluid in your lungs, it may come from heart failure.
Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound of your heart. It provides detailed information about its structure and function.
If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for more tests or treatment.
When To Go To The Emergency Department For Heart Palpitations
by Jeffrey Dubin, MD, Chief Medical OfficerMay 29, 2017
Most people barely notice their hearts beating. And thats natural. But any noticeable change in the heartbeat should be concerning. Heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious condition, but some heart palpitations are totally normal.
I describe the feeling of heart palpitations as the heart-pounding sensation you get after running up a flight of stairs. But for people with heart palpitations, that feeling could just show up while theyre sitting on the couch.
Risk Factors For Mental Health Conditions
Everyone has some risk of developing a mental health disorder, no matter their age, sex, income, or ethnicity.
In the U.S. and much of the developed world, mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability.
Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a persons mental health.
A large proportion of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time.
It is important to note that good mental health depends on a delicate balance of factors and that several elements of life and the world at large can work together to contribute to disorders.
The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions.
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How Are Palpitations Diagnosed
Keep track of your palpitations. Note when they happen, how long they last, how you feel and what you are doing when they start. Bring this log to your appointment.
Your doctor will review this information along with your medical history, symptoms, diet and the medications and herbal products you may take. Your doctor will also listen to your heart and lungs.
You may need tests, such as blood and urine tests, electrocardiogram , stress test, chest X-ray and echocardiogram . You may need to wear a monitor after you go home so your doctor can get more information about your heart and symptoms.
Other tests to check for a heart problem include an electrophysiology study and cardiac catheterization. You may also need to see an ++electrophysiologist++ a doctor that specializes in abnormal heart rhythms.
What If Your Heart Races
The normal heart averages between 60 and 100 beats per minute. When your heart beats faster than this, you have a condition called tachycardia.
When your heart races, itâs working too hard. It doesnât have enough time to fill with blood or pump it to the rest of your body. You might have heart palpitations or chest pain. You may also feel dizzy or faint.
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Sometimes Comfort And Reassurance Are The Best Medicine
While palpitations can sometimes signal a more serious condition, theyre often just a sensation of a normal heartbeat, says Marine. Confirming that nothing is seriously wrong is sometimes all a person needs. Relaxation techniques and reassurance from a physician I find that both are very helpful when the cause of palpitations is benign.
Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center
The Johns Hopkins Womens Cardiovascular Health Center provides education, comprehensive treatment and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women.
Irregular Heartbeats & Heart Palpitations
Irregular heartbeats , heart attacks, and general endothelial dysfunction seem related to reduced levels of a substance called nitric oxide. Endothelial is a single layer of smooth, thin cells that lines the heart, blood vessels, lymphatics, and cavities of the body.
One of the main functions of nitric oxide is to help the coronary blood vessels relax and dilate . When these vessels are relaxed, there is more blood flow to the heart.
Heart palpitations are simply electrical misfires, often anxiety or stress-related, that everyone experiences from time to time. Unless they occur with great frequency, they are often harmless and insignificant, says Lou-Anne Beauregard, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey. Minimizing stress, and simple Deep Breathing Exercises can alleviate such episodes.
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Further Testing For Heart Palpitations
In most cases, we see patients in the emergency department whose palpitations have either gone away or arent critical by the time they arrive. Like a car problem that clears up when you visit the mechanic, this can be frustrating for patients.
We reassure them that just because we dont see an abnormal heart rhythm now doesnt mean that they didnt have one before. We check for any signs of damage or injury, and we may monitor patients for a few hours at the emergency department to see if they have another episode of palpitions, but there may not be enough time to capture an abnormal heart rhythm that comes and goes.
We often refer patients who have had heart palpitations to a cardiologist in the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. For example, we might diagnose an abnormal heart rhythm in the emergency department, but its not something that needs emergency treatment. Or we might not see evidence of an abnormal heart rhythm, but we think the patient could benefit from additional monitoring to rule out possible heart problems.
A normal heartbeat is easy to take for granted. So when we feel heart palpitations, it can be very scary. But with quick medical attention and advanced monitoring, your heart can beat steadily for a long time to come.
To learn more about heart palpitations, please visit .
When To Evaluate Heart Palpitations
Palpitations are symptoms of everything from short or long-term stress to a variety of arrhythmias . They may feel alarming, but do not always reflect a serious heart condition. Joseph Marine, M.D., vice-director of the Division of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins, starts his evaluation by asking his patients what they hear.
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How Are Heart Palpitations Treated
If your heart palpitations arent related to a heart condition, its unlikely that your doctor will provide any specific treatment.
They may suggest that you make lifestyle changes and avoid triggers. Some of these lifestyle changes may also help GERD, such as reducing your caffeine intake.
Reducing the stress in your life may also help treat heart palpitations. To reduce stress, you may try any of the following:
- Add regular activity into your day, such as yoga, meditation, or mild to moderate exercise, to help increase endorphins and reduce stress.
- Practice deep breathing exercises.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
The most appropriate way to treat palpitations at home is to avoid the triggers that cause your symptoms.
- Reduce stress. Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
- Avoid stimulants. Caffeine, nicotine, some cold medicines and energy drinks can make your heart beat quickly or irregularly.
- Avoid illegal drugs. Certain drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can bring on heart palpitations.
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Diagnosing Heart Palpitations With Severe Symptoms
If the patient’s symptoms are more severe, such as significant lightheadedness or loss of consciousness associated with palpitations, a more comprehensive evaluation is warranted. That type of evaluation might well involve an ultrasound of the heart, a treadmill test, more sophisticated blood tests including thyroid tests, and an ambulatory EKG or Holter monitor. Some patients may require invasive studies if a serious heart condition is suspected to underlie the symptom of palpitations.
What Is High Blood Pressure
Leaving high blood pressure untreated may damage the blood vessels.
The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body. As it travels, the blood delivers oxygen to the bodys vital organs.
Sometimes, a problem in the body makes it harder for the heart to pump the blood. This could happen, for example, if an artery becomes too narrow.
Persistent high blood pressure can put a strain on the walls of the arteries. This can lead to a variety of health problems, some of which can be life threatening.
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What To Expect From Your Doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Do your palpitations start and stop suddenly?
- Does it seem like your palpitations have a pattern, such as occurring the same time every day or during a certain activity?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Are you having other symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, or dizziness when you have palpitations?
- Have you ever had heart rhythm problems before, such as atrial fibrillation?
Arrhythmias As Symptoms Of Serious Disorders
Arrhythmia can be a symptom of more serious underlying disorders, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- heart valve or heart muscle abnormalities
- congenital heart disease
- an overactive thyroid gland
- problems with the electrical circuitry of the heart, such as blocked signals or signals taking an abnormal path through the heart
- significant electrolyte abnormalities
- irritable heart cells sending extra electrical signals.
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Magnesium Has The Following Relations To Heart Health:
- Magnesium functions as an electrolyte which is essential for electrical activity in the body. Without electrolytes which allow for electrical signals to be sent and received through the body. The absence of these signals would stop your heart from pumping blood which can have adverse effects on even your brain.
- Muscle spasms can occur as a result of insufficient magnesium and this would have negative effects on your heart.
- Your cellular metabolic, as well as mitochondrial functions, will be affected negatively by lack of magnesium. This would also have consequences like causing heart problems.
- Low magnesium negatively affects the electrical impulses which are responsible for the heartbeat and heart rate. This means that the rhythm of your heart would be affected by a deficiency of magnesium. This situation is called Cardiac Arrhythmias.
- Low magnesium also raises the risk of hypertension which may result in congestive heart failures and the enlargement of the heart.
Generally, your risk of Cardiovascular Disease increases with insufficient magnesium. Low magnesium intake would naturally mean that there is a lower circulation of magnesium in your body which could lead to heart problems that may begin to manifest as palpitations.
Try These Tips To Stop Heart Palpitations:
- Splash cold water on your face, which stimulates a nerve that manages your heart rate.
- Breathe deeply to help your body relax.
- Vigorously move to stop palpitations through exercise.
- Reduce anxiety in whatever way works best for your unique needs.
- Close your eyes, then use your hands to gently press on your eyeballs.
- Try the Valsalva maneuver: pinch your nostrils closed, then try to blow air through the nose with the nostrils sealed.
- Drink water if the palpitations are associated with dehydration.
- Restore electrolyte balance by eating foods high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
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Types Of Irregular Heartbeats Associated With Alcohol Abuse
The heart is a complex organ, and the cardiovascular system works as a balanced system in a healthy body, but there are plenty of places for an issue to arise. Depending on where the arrhythmia originates, there are many different types of irregular heartbeats that could be at play, including:
- Premature Atrial Contractions
- Electrophysiology Study
- Head-up Tilt Table Tests
If the doctor does find and diagnose an arrhythmia, you will also be given a prognosis and recommended a treatment plan. Depending on the type and severity of the arrhythmia, it may be recommended that you have ablation, heart surgery, or a pacemaker installed in the cases of more serious irregular heartbeats. In less serious cases, a simple change of diet and exercise may be enough to reverse or slow the progression of the disease.
How To Stop Palpitations Naturally At Home Best Natural Treatments:
Palpitation is actually a symptom in themselves. Nevertheless, it can accompany other symptoms for example, a sensation of constriction in the throat or a breathshortness.
In some cases, heart palpitation could be the symptom of a more severe heart issue, especially when it goes along with other symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea, sweating, chest pain, blurred vision, fainting, and dizziness.
Do consult your doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned, especially if they occur frequently or become worsen, or if you have a history of cardiovascular disease.
There are several trigger factors that can lead to palpitations, such as biological or hormonal conditions, psychological factors, and external stimulants.
The use of illicit drugs like marijuana or cocaine, strenuous exercise, high levels of adrenalin due to anxiety or stress, low blood sugar, excess intake of alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine an electrolyte imbalance in the body, overactive thyroid, and anemia are some of the most popular causes of this health issue.
In addition, pregnant women and people suffering from panic attacks are more prone to this health issue. Certain prescription medicines might also cause the same.
Some quick tips on how to stop palpitations at home naturally without making use of drugs, pills, or medical interventions so that people can try right away:
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the likely cause of my heart palpitations?
- Will I need to wear a heart monitor? For how long?
- Would it be helpful if I kept track of my palpitations? Do I need to track anything else, such as what I ate or my physical activity?
- Do my heart palpitations indicate a more serious problem?
- What are some symptoms that would indicate my condition is getting worse?
- Will I need to change my lifestyle, such as diet and exercise habits?
Are Premature Ventricular Contractions Life Threatening
If someone has normal heart function and no evidence of structural heart disease, the PVCs are a nuisance, but benign. If the PVCs are so symptomatic as to be disruptive, try eliminating all of the factors such as caffeine, certain foods, stress, before considering any treatment with medications. When we do treat with medications, we usually try to use simple medications such as beta-blockers first before going on to specific anti-arrhythmic agents. Very frequently, this is enough to improve patients’ symptoms.
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Caffeinated Foods / Beverages
The research around caffeine is a little less definitive since a study released at the start of 2016 found no relationship between caffeine consumption and palpitations. However, those results dont change the fact that caffeine revs up your sympathetic nervous system and spikes your levels of stress hormones , raising your blood pressure and increasing your heart rate. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which can wash away your potassium and magnesium stores, creating an electrolyte imbalance that disrupts the heart rhythm.
In my experience, placing extra stress on the heartas caffeine doescan aggravate existing arrhythmias or cause new ones. One of the reasons beta blockers are prescribed to heart attack patients is that they help control heart rate and prevent sudden changes in heart rate and rhythm by blunting the effect of the stress hormone adrenaline.
For those of you with healthy hearts, your daily dose of coffee, tea, or chocolate probably wont cause any harm. Beware, though, of caffeine-containing energy drinks, which are particularly popular with young people. These drinks, which combine caffeine with large amounts of sugar, have been linked with heart palpitations, arrhythmia, heart attack, and sudden cardiac death in adolescents and young adults.
How Are Palpitations Treated
The best type of treatment for you depends on what causes your palpitations. You may not need any treatment. If the palpitations are related to certain foods, you should avoid those triggers. If you have heart disease or an abnormal heart rhythm, you may need medication, a procedure, surgery or a device to correct the problem. It is important to keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor.
If your palpitations get worse or suddenly happen more often, call your doctor.
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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: