Heart Palpitations – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Heart Palpitation?

heart pictures
Picture 1 – Heart
Source – nytimes

Heart beats at a normal pace of 60 – 100 times per minute. But the abnormality in the frequency of heart beat causing a sensation of its irregular beating is referred to as Heart Palpitations. During such circumstances, the rate of heart beat may either rise above 100 times per minute or may drop down to 50 – 55 beats per minute. Unusually high heart rate is known as tachycardia and a very low one is known as bradycardia. Heart palpitations after eating are quite normal and usually every individual becomes aware of it. But the beating of the heart at a very frequent pace leads to the palpitations of the heart. Such a condition may be triggered by several reasons giving rise to certain emotional or physical state conducive to sudden and racing heart palpitations. Heart palpitations fluttering starts to ebb within a few seconds of heart attack like feelings.

Heart Palpitations Symptoms

Irregular heart palpitations felt in the throat, neck or chest may be accompanied by a number of other symptoms such as over sweating, fatigue, headache, dizziness, as well as chest pain. Panic attacks, high or low blood pressure and shortness of breath are some of the most frequent symptoms of severe heart palpitations. Blackouts caused during heart palpitations may actually indicate latent heart problems or disease which may precipitate to cause palpitations heart attack. Another symptom for heart palpitations at night or while lying down is limb pain. The symptoms for heart palpitations depends on the kind of rhythm problem associated with heart beat. On the basis of this, the symptoms may either last for a few minutes or for hours. But for those who would like to know the answer to the questions such as are heart palpitations dangerous or serious, the answer lies in the fact that heart palpitations are quite normal and usually occur due to natural reasons except in cases of latent heart problems.

Causes of Heart Palpitations

What causes heart palpitations? Heart palpitations causes can be divided into the following for the benefit of detecting the exact reason behind it during the diagnosis :

Hyper-dynamic Circulation Problems

  • Valvular incompetence characterized by the bulging of the mitral valve which controls the flow of blood from the left upper to the lower chamber of the heart. The condition is also known as Prolapse responsible for irregular or rapid heart palpitations.
  • Thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyroidism leading to heart palpitations and thyroid.
  • Pyrexia or high fever causing shivering and muscle tone.
  • Hypercapnia or the presence of excess carbon dioxide in the blood.
  • Such problems are also responsible for heart palpitations during early pregnancy and pregnancy.

Sympathetic Overdrive

  • Mitral valve Prolapse characterized by the bulging of the mitral valve which controls the flow of blood from the left upper to the lower chamber of the heart. The condition is responsible for irregular or rapid heart palpitations.
  • Panic disorders or panic attacks caused due to the fluttering of the heart beats.
  • Heart disorders or problems underlying the symptoms of heart palpitations
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose level
  • Hypoxia or the lack of adequate oxygen supply in the body leading to heart palpitations shortness of breath.
  • The use of antihistamines such as Levocetirizine also triggers heart palpitations.
  • Anemia or the lack of sufficient volume of blood in the body.

Cardiac Disrythimias

  • Junctional Escape beat, a condition arising out of delayed heartbeat.
  • Abnormal heart rhythm may lead to cardiac arrhythmia which is also known as atrial fibrillation.
  • A type of premature heartbeat palpitation or irregular heart beat characterizes a cause of heartbeat palpitation.
  • Heart beat palpitations are also caused by Premature Ventricular Contraction which is actually triggered by heart ventricles rather than by senatorial node. This is also known as PVC heart palpitations.
  • Fast pace of heart rhythm caused in one of the ventricles of the heart is known as Ventricular tachycardia. Such cases of high paced heart beat may jeopardize one’s life leading to ventricular fibrillation.
  • The operation of the heart beats in a tachycardic rhythm leads to Supraventricular tachycardia that originates in the ventricular tissue.
  • The blockage of the electrical conduction system of the heart is known as a heart block which can be the cause for heart beat palpitations.

Other causes for Heart Palpitations

  • Heart palpitations during and after exercise naturally increases the pace of heart beat leading to pounding heart palpitations.
  • Along with the, strong emotional feelings characterized by fear, anxiety, stress, depression or nervousness also contribute to the racing heart palpitations.
  • Medications like asthma drugs and inhalers to treat breathing problems, diet pills to control diet, beta blockers, thyroid pills used to treat an underactive thyroid, anti-arrhythmics needed to treat an irregular rhythm of the heart.
  • Alcohol, caffeine and marijuana heart palpitations is caused by the use of stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol, adrenaline, nicotine, caffeine, marijuana and other illegal drugs. Besides these, the medicines available over the counter such as decongestants and nutritional supplements also cause heart palpitations.
  • Certain medical conditions such as low blood sugar level, hyperthyroidism, excessive loss of blood, high or low blood pressure, lack of adequate body fluid and nutrients, electrolyte abnormality also contribute to diabetes heart palpitations, heart palpitations thyroid problems, anemic heart palpitations, heart palpitations high blood pressure problems, low blood pressure heart palpitations, dehydration heart palpitations, and magnesium heart palpitations. Problems related to indigestion may lead to indigestion heart palpitations.
  • The other reasons for heart palpitations can be attributed to the changes in the hormones during periods of pregnancy, menstruation, premenopausal period, menopause thereby triggering heart palpitations in pregnancy, premenopause heart palpitations, heart palpitations menopause, hormones and heart palpitations.

Heart Palpitations Diagnosis

heart photos
Picture 2 – Heart Picture
Source – estrellamountain

The diagnosis of heart palpitations depends on certain considerations, namely, the age of the person and the nature and effect of heart palpitations. One also needs to consider the intake of caffeine or alcohol and even tea or coffee, the way in which heart palpitations begin and stop abruptly, the regularity or the irregularity of heart palpitations, the nature of pulse rate, as well as the natural ways that the patient has adopted to stop heart palpitations.

Heart murmur palpitations can be detected with the help of ECG. ECG can help detect irregular heart rhythm that occurs in case of heart palpitations. Besides ECG, blood tests and thyroid tests are also important ways to diagnose heart palpitations. Holter monitor, event monitor tests are the techniques adopted within the same. Electrophysiology study, Echocardiogram, and Coronary angiography are the other tests that are conducted for diagnosing heart palpitations under the supervision of Cardiologists and Electro physiologists.

Heart Palpitations Treatment

One who wonders how to stop heart palpitations, the answer lies in the fact that the treatment for heart palpitations depends on the specific cause of heart palpitations. For those enquiring whether heart palpitations are dangerous , they must be aware of the fact that although most cases are benign heart palpitations which get healed naturally, yet measures should be taken to avoid or prevent serious heart palpitations. Reducing anxiety and stress which usually leads to heart palpitation stress can be helpful in providing relief from the condition as it can lessen the pace of heartbeat. Heart palpitations during and after exercise is very common among all. But those suffering from serious heart problems which may precipitate to cause serious heart palpitations should undergo relaxation exercises such as tai chi and yoga on a regular basis, and aromatherapy and biofeedback once or twice a month. Restricting oneself from the use of stimulants such as alcohol, amphetamines, nicotine, caffeine, cocaine as well as other OTC medications such as decongestants present in cough and cold medicines may help one to prevent heart palpitations. Following the aid and advice of the doctors is also a prerequisite for the treatment of heart palpitations.

These are the preventive and treatment measures that need to be adopted for those wondering what to do about heart palpitations? For those who suffer from heart related problems, an early or immediate diagnosis for heart palpitations is necessary. But normal human beings need not bother about heart palpitations as it may occur due to physical exercise or nervousness unless it is really bothersome.

Reference :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palpitation
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003081.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-palpitations/DS01139
http://www.medicinenet.com/palpitations/article.htm

Published on December 17th 2010 by  under Heart, Blood and Circulation.
Article was last reviewed on 3rd September 2011.

2 Responses to “Heart Palpitations – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment”

  1. david mcgee says:

    for over 3 years i have been having funny things going on with my heart skip beats pausing double beats ex my doctor told me it is eptopic beats and i have nothing to worry about can i have some further advice please

  2. dave says:

    hi i have been having skip beats pausing pvc for 2 years on and of but for the last 2weeks it has been constant ever 2 beats i get a mist beat i have had a CT angiography (CTA), normal and a 24 hotler i am worried as i am only getting 48 beats a min

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