Heart palpitations

Chest | Cardiology | Heart palpitations (Disease)


An arrhythmia is a disturbed heart rhythm. Some arrhythmias dont affect your overall health, while others are more serious and life - threatening. Palpitations are a sensation or awareness of your heart beating. Palpitations may feel like your heart is racing, thumping or skipping beats. They can be triggered by exercise, emotional stress, caffeine and nicotine. Palpitations are usually associated with an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

A palpitation is an abnormality of heartbeat that ranges from often unnoticed skipped beats or accelerated heartrate to very noticeable changes accompanied by dizziness or difficulty breathing. Heart palpitations can be symptoms of illnesses such as coronary heart disease, asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Some patients are totally unaware of their arrhythmias. Others may report symptoms including palpitations, skipping or fluttering sensations, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

In both tachycardias and bradycardias, lack of blood flow to the brain, the coronary arteries, or the rest of the body can occur. Lack of blood flow to the brain can cause dizziness or loss of consciousness (syncope). Lack of blood supply to the coronary arteries can cause chest pain or pressure (angina).

Inadequate blood supply to the rest of the body can cause weakness and shortness of breath.

Causes and Risk factors

Arrhythmias are pattern and/or speed changes from the normal heart rhythm. Sometimes your heart’s electrical system may malfunction because of coronary heart disease, chemicals in your blood (including some medicines) or sometimes for no known reason. Changes in your heart’s electrical system can cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhytmia).

Diagnosis and Treatment

Patients vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure are checked and listening to the heart to check for abnormal sounds such as clicks or murmurs associated with heart valve abnormalities is performed.

If the palpitations are present at the time of the visit to the health care practitioner, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a heart monitor that records heart rate and rhythm may help establish the diagnosis.

Longer term care for palpitations aside from the lifestyle changes is medication. Treatment is specific to each rhythm and must be tailored individually to each patient. ...