• What Is A Heart Palpitation?
Guide To Irregular Heartbeats
|What Is A Heart Palpitation?
A palpitation is medically defined as an awareness or feeling in the chest of your heartbeat or a sensation of having forceful rapid heartbeats. Your heart may feel like it is pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly. This sensation lasts between a few seconds and a few minutes. It can also radiate to the neck or throat. While palpitations may be alarming they are not usually a sign of a heart problem. Occasionally you may even experience the sensation of a skipped or extra heartbeat. This is known as an ectopic beat, again this is very common and nothing to worry about.
Most ectopic heartbeats feel like a fluttering or thumping in the chest. They usually occur at rest and can be caused by:
A cardiac arrhythmia is a medical condition whereby the electrical impulses in the heart are affected, causing an irregular heartbeat. There are different types of arrhythmias, some more dangerous than others. While palpitations may be one of the symptoms of arrhythmias, most palpitations, as discussed above, are not due to arrhythmias - rather they are triggered by more benign causes like drinking too much coffee.
If you start to experience palpitations more often, or have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor. It may be a sign of a heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia).
Arrhythmia diagnosis: Your doctor will take a complete medical history, asking many of the questions outlined above. He will also ask you to explain your symptoms and when and how often they occur. He will take your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and breathing rate. If he suspects that there could be a problem he may order any of the following diagnostic tests:
If your doctor rules out any serious causes, try not to pay any attention to your palpitations, unless you notice they start to appear more frequently. He might advise you to make some lifestyle changes which may help reduce your palpitations. This includes cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and managing your levels of stress. If you have any arrhythmia risk factors, he might also advise on making lifestyle adjustments in accordance with coronary heart disease prevention.
Call 911 immediately if:
If you experience palpitations on a regular basis and they are accompanied by feelings of anxiety, stress and panic, you be having panic attacks. While panic attacks can be scary and intense, they are not dangerous.
Yes, very common. Heart murmurs, palpitations and even temporary arrhythmias are common during pregnancy. This is because pregnancy places extra demand on the heart. The volume of blood sloshing around the body increases by up to 50 percent. While most palpitations are quite harmless and disappear again after childbirth, some can be a sign of anemia (see, anemia in pregnancy). Always discuss any concerns you have with your pregnancy healthcare team. See also: Heart disease during pregnancy.
Some people develop palpitations after eating a heavy meal, particularly after a meal with lots of carbs, fat or sugar. Sometimes foods which contain high levels of salt, nitrates and monosodium glutamate (MSG) can also trigger an attack. Eating a healthier diet will normally reduce episodes. If experience an attack after eating other types of foods, it likely that you have a food sensitivity. Foods containing soy for example are one common trigger. Try keeping a food diary to help you identify your personal cause.
|Related Articles on Heart Palpitations
For more heart-related facts, see the following:
Back To Homepage: Womens Health Advice