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.
Could Heart Palpitations Accompanied By Shortness Of Breath Be Serious
Heart palpitations can certainly be associated with shortness of breath, that is, the two symptoms together without a serious condition being present. That usually indicates that the irregularity of the heart rhythm is significant and may signal the need for a more comprehensive evaluation.
In general, the more serious the symptoms, such as lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, chest pain, shortness of breath, the more seriously one needs to take the problem.
If a patient has known heart disease such as a previous myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure , hypertrophic cardiomyopathy , and others, the symptoms of palpitations will require a thorough evaluation.
Causes Of Heart Palpitations In Children
Heart palpitations can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Being startled, frightened or under stress
- Cold, allergy, and asthma medications
- Herbal supplements
Two of the most frequent causes for heart palpitations are not drinking enough fluid on a regular basis or being out of good physical shape.
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Heart Palpitations: Frequently Asked Questions
The symptoms of palpitations vary from patient to patient with some common features.
A perception of irregularity of the pulse, an uneasiness in the chest, a flip-flopping in the chest frequently people describe their palpitations as âmy heart stops.â Certainly a feeling of strong pulse throughout the chest, head, and neck could well be described as a palpitation.
Occasionally palpitations can be perceived in unusual ways including a general sense of uneasiness, and, rarely, palpitations are associated with lightheadedness or even loss of consciousness.
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Anxiety Stimulants And Gender Also Affect Your Heart Beat
Some groups of people are at higher risk than others. Women who are menstruating, perimenopausal or pregnant may have a higher risk of experiencing heart palpitations because of hormonal changes.
Other groups at higher risk include people who:
- Experience regular panic or anxiety attacks.
- Take medications like thyroid pills or stimulants like caffeine and diet pills.
- Have an existing medical condition such as an overactive thyroid or a heart condition.
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How Do Menstrual Hormones Affect Heart Rate
Heart rate during menstrual cycle is affected by hormonal fluctuations. Menstrual cycle is been reported to modulate the autonomic nervous system . Palpitations occur most during luetel phase, in which estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high.
The Parasympathetic system, which dominates in the follicular phase, increases awareness of the heart beating and sympathetic system, which dominates in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, stimulates the heart to beat faster and harder. These changes are reported to trigger heart palpitations during menstrual cycle.
More specifically, the way hormonal fluctuation affects heart rate, by causing palpitations, is as follows:
1. The increase of progesterone in the luteal phase causes the heart to beat faster and harder, by increasing thus the possibility of an aberration in the heart rate, causing palpitations.
2. The decrease of estrogen in the luteal phase modulates autonomic nervous system leading thus to occasional increase awareness of the heart beating, so palpitations.
3. This two hormones, affect also the pituitary gland one of the main functions of which is controlling the emotions. Mood swings, very common experienced during menstrual cycle due to this hormonal imbalance can cause palpitations.
What To Know About Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations is the feeling of having heart flutters when lying down. It can also be the feeling of having a fast heartbeat or the feeling that the heart is pounding strongly. They can occur at different times for different reasons, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Some people experience their heart beating fast at night and can’t sleep. Patients may ask, “Why does my heart beat fast when I lay down?” Most often palpitations are caused by the change in position of the body. When you lay down you compress the stomach and chest cavity together, putting pressure on the heart and blood flow and increasing circulation. The easiest fix for this is to simply change position.
Experiencing heart palpitations when lying down on the left side may be from activating the vagus nerve. This is an important nerve that reaches from the brain to the abdomen. It is responsible for controlling the heart rate. Lying on your left side can stimulate the vagus nerve, sending abnormal electrical signals to the heart causing palpitations. It is a harmless reaction and if it worries you, change position or avoid lying on your left side.
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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.
What Do Experts Say
Feeling your heart suddenly and unexpectedly starting to race or pound, fluttering or skipping beats is a sensation called heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations can be bothersome or frightening, but they usually aren’t serious or harmful, and often go away on their own. Most of the time, palpitations are caused by stress and anxiety, or because of excess caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol. They can also occur in pregnancy.
Sometimes, although rarely, heart palpitations can be a sign of a more serious heart condition. This is why it is important to see your doctor if you have heart palpitations, especially if they’re accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
The cough may also occur along with heart palpitations and could indicate a more serious condition, such as heart failure.
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How Your Heart Works
Your heart has a right side and a left side, separated by a wall. Each side has a small collecting chamber , which leads into a large pumping chamber . There are four chambers the left atrium and right atrium , and the left ventricle and right ventricle .
Normally, the upper chambers of your heart contract first and push blood into the lower chambers . The ventricles then contract the right ventricle pumping blood to your lungs and the left ventricle pumping blood to the rest of your body.
In a healthy heart, heartbeats are set off by tiny electrical signals that come from your hearts natural pacemaker a small area of your heart called the sinus node, located in the top of the right atrium. These signals travel rapidly throughout the atria to make sure that all the hearts muscle fibres contract at the same time, pushing blood into the ventricles.
These same electrical signals are passed on to the ventricles via the atrioventricular node and cause the ventricles to contract a short time later, after they have been filled with blood from the atria. This normal heart rhythm is called the sinus rhythm, because it is controlled by the sinus node.
Cocaine And Other Street Drugs
Illegal drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy are dangerous to the heart. Cocaine boosts blood pressure, raises heart rate, and damages the heart muscle. Amphetamines stimulate the nervous system, which ramps up your heartbeat. Ecstasy triggers the release of a chemical called norepinephrine, which makes the heart beat faster.
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When To Seek Help
Talk with your doctor if you notice your heart rate is faster than normal. Doctors cannot always pinpoint the cause of heart palpitations. They will need to rule out heart rhythm disorders like tachycardia and other medical conditions like hyperthyroidism.
There is typically little risk of complications with heart palpitations unless theyre caused by an underlying heart condition. If theyre caused by a heart condition, you may experience:
- fainting if your heart beats too quickly and causes your blood pressure to drop
- cardiac arrest if your palpitations are caused by arrhythmias and your heart isnt beating efficiently
- stroke if your palpitations are caused by atrial fibrillation
- heart failure if your heart isnt pumping well for a long period of time
Speak with your doctor if you have palpitations with any other symptoms or if you have other concerns about your health.
Medical Treatment For Heart Palpitations
If self-help techniques don’t work, and palpitations are still bothersome, you may want to try some medical options. Medications called beta blockers are sometimes used to treat heart palpitations. They slow the heart rate and control the flow of “beat now” signals that regulate the heartbeat.
Sometimes a medical procedure called an ablation is needed. It can control palpitations caused by errant electrical signals in the heart.
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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 patientsâ symptoms.
What To Do If Foods Cause You Heart Palpitations
First off, take note if you feel any additional symptoms, because those could signal that youre experiencing more than simple palpitations. Seek emergency medical help if at any point you also have:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or discomfort in the upper back, arms, neck, or jaw
- Feeling of impending doom
If its the first time youve ever noticed heart palpitations, make a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Its likely nothing is wrong, but its always best to err on the side of caution and make sure that the food-related episode isnt the first sign of a bigger issue.
Next, start a log and record times when the palpitations recur. Note what you ate or drank and what sort of emotional state you were in. If specific foods or beverages tend to cause recurrences, take that as a sign you should reduce or eliminate those foods from your diet. Your body and your heart couldnt be telling you any more clearly that those substances are doing you harm.
First What Are Heart Palpitations Exactly
Generally when we talk about palpitations, it means youre aware of your heart beating, and it feels like its not normal, Shephal Doshi, M.D., director of cardiac electrophysiology at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF.
If you ask four people with heart palpitations to describe them, you might get four varying answers. When people say, I have heart palpitations, they can mean so many different things that you have to tease out some details as to what exactly they feel, Sanjiv Patel, M.D., cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells SELF.
People often mistake normal heart activity for heart palpitations too. Some people are very attuned to their bodies, feel their hearts beating faster and think its a palpitation, but its still beating at a normal speed of up to 100 beats a minute, Dr. Patel says. Which is all to say that the symptoms of heart palpitations arent cut and dry.
Additional Questions To Ask Yourself
Check your pulse at the time of the skipped beat or palpitation.
Is it slow, fast? Seem funny?
At the time of the palpitations, do you have other symptoms like dizziness, a faint feeling or chest pain?
And of course, what are you doing when they occur?
Find that pattern, if one exists.
See if keeping dehydrated, cutting back on caffeine, quitting smoking and drinking, keeping well-nourished and managing your stress when at the computer dont resolve the problem.
If youre unable to trace your heart palpitations or skipped beats to anxiety at the computer, and they seem to occur randomly, then dont hesitate to see a cardiologist.
Dr. Meininger is board certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine and is widely regarded as an expert in the use of multiple modalities to treat cardiac arrhythmias.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
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When Heart Palpitations Should Be Checked Out
Dont hesitate to visit our team if youre concerned about your heart. Unless you have a pre-existing heart condition, most heart palpitations are a rare occurrence. But even if your heart palpitations arent a sign of a more serious health issue, getting checked out can help put your mind at ease.
If your heart palpitations are accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or loss of consciousness, seek immediate medical attention. If you have a known heart condition, such as a prior heart attack, heart disease, or coronary artery disease, seeking care for heart palpitations can help your heart stay strong.
Heart palpitations generally happen quickly, and the irregular heartbeat is gone by the time you come in to the office. Consider keeping notes when you experience a palpitation, and come to your appointment prepared to talk about your symptoms.
The doctor performs a physical exam and listens to your heartbeat. If your heart palpitations are caused by a murmur, he can detect irregular sounds and potential issues with your hearts valves through this exam.
We may recommend additional testing depending on your symptoms and medical history. A blood test can evaluate the possibility of thyroid imbalance, low potassium, or anemia. Another common test to evaluate heart palpitations is an electrocardiogram .
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What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Palpitations
You might feel like your heart is racing, thumping or skipping beats.
You may also feel faint, breathless or experience chest pain.
There are many causes of palpitations and its common to experience them when you feel:
This is due to a rise in adrenaline levels, which can cause your heart to beat faster.
Palpitations and irregular heartbeat can also be caused by:
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Heart Palpitations During Computer Work: The Explanations
Your computer work is stressful or produces anxiety. For example, youre logging onto your credit card account to see how much youre in debt and are worried you wont be able to afford the minimum payment.
Or, youve recently had palpitations at the computer, and now, any time you sit at the computer becomes a conditioned stimulus for palpitations.
You worry about them and expect them so much that they actually occur.
Sitting before the computer may be a time of anxiety for you. Maybe its the stress of having to go through a ream of e-mails.
Maybe its what you expect the content of the e-mails to be.
Maybe you keep expecting an e-mail from an important person and it still hasnt arrived.
Some people have admitted getting stressed reading about breaking news.
All this stress and anxiety can indirectly cause heart palpitations or the sensation of skipped beats or thumping.
I know of no direct reason computer work may cause palpitations, says Glenn Meininger, MD, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Services for the Baltimore region of the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.
There is nothing inherent about sitting down, or viewing a computer screen, that causes a rhythm disorder in the heart.
Dr. Meininger explains, But some thoughts are that people are more aware of palpitations when they are more sedentary, for example in bed, sitting quietly, and this may be why people are more observant or aware of abnormal rhythms.
When To Call 911
If your palpitations are accompanied by dizziness, light-headedness, shortness of breath, confusion, chest discomfort, faintness or passing out, you should immediately call 911. These are symptoms of potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart valve disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
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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?
Heart Racing With Thc Is Not Uncommon
Do You Get Palpitations When You Use Cannabis? Heres Why.
Have you ever felt your heart race after lighting up?
Its happened to most of us, but its no cause for concern. Youre vulnerable to experiencing mild palpitations if you smoke strains that have a high THC content, because THC can increase heart rate. This cannabinoid is actually a vasodilator, which means that it makes the blood vessels expand. In turn this will lower blood pressure and cause the heart rate to increase to make up for low pressure.
What To Do If Your Heart Rate Increases:
- Check THC Levels: If you find that this happens to you way too often, all you need to do is switch to check the THC levels of the pot youve been smoking. Opting for strains that contain lower amounts of THC may be effective in reducing palpitations or eliminating them completely try smoking strains with 10% THC or less. Microdosing is another way you can prevent increasing your heart rate while still enjoying a good buzz as well as the medicinal properties of the plant.
- Check Your Strain: Sativa strains are also known to cause an increase in heart rate compared to its hybrid and indica sisters. Sativa strains are more energizing and uplifting which can cause some users to experience anxiety or panic, which will then lead to palpitations and paranoia. If youve been smoking sativa strains often, try switching to indica or indica-dominant hybrids and see how it goes.
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