What Are Heart Palpitations

Palpitations are nothing but evidence of activity of the heart and palpitations often cause a sensation of fluttering, pounding, skipping beats and even racing of the heart.

Heart Palpitations Causes:

Most people will never notice their heart activity but sometimes they are aware of the heart activity when the heart rate is heightened due to different reasons. Some can also feel the heart activity when they lie on their left side and also in certain situations such as exercising vigorously or experiencing a dramatic emotional episode. During such circumstances even healthy people become aware of the activity of their heart. They can sometimes feel that their heart is beating very rapidly or very forcefully and sometimes they can even sense irregular heart beat.

Palpitations often result from disturbance of the rhythm of the heart which is known as arrhythmia. The arrhythmia can often be harmless but in most cases is life-threatening. Arrhythmia which is the premature contraction of the atrial or premature contraction of the ventricular is harmless. These irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias can occur in normal people who do not suffer any heart disorder. There are other arrhythmias such as atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation as well as ventricular tachycardia that usually occur in people suffering from cardiac disorders such as the coronary artery disease or the heart valve disorder which usually affects the electrical conduction system of the heart.

Alcohol, caffeine and drugs such as ephedrine, amphetamines, cocaine, epinephrine and also theophylline can lead to palpitations. Palpitations also occur due to an overactive thyroid gland, low levels of oxygen in the blood, low levels of potassium in the blood as well as anemia .

Evaluation Of Heart Palpitations:

To determine whether heart palpitations are normal or abnormal can often depend on the answers to numerous different questions like whether the palpitations occur abruptly or gradually, whether any activity triggers the palpitation, heart rate during the palpitation as well as the extent of irregular heartbeat. An occasional irregular heartbeat might suggest premature atrial contraction or premature ventricular contraction. In case the person experiences a permanent sensation of heart beats that are irregular the person might be suffering from atrial fibrillation. In case the person experiences irregular heartbeats which become rapid all of the sudden and then slow down to the normal heart rate, the person might be suffering from ventricular tachycardia or supraventricular tachycardia. Heart Palpitations which are occurring with several other symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, weakness, fainting spells and fatigue usually result from a serious cardiac disorder or extreme irregular heart rhythm.

To evaluate palpitations the doctors usually listen to the heart using a stethoscope. ECG or Electrocardiography is usually performed on the person experiencing palpitations. The ECG is usually performed on the person experiencing palpitations when the symptoms are occurring. In case the person is experiencing severe but on and off symptoms the doctor usually prescribes continuous ambulatory electrocardiography (Holter ECG). Other possible tests to determine the cause of palpitations include echocardiography or ultrasonography of the heart and certain blood tests.

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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