Understanding heart palpitations

Understanding heart palpitations

Understanding different heart conditions is the best way to stay healthy and prevent any sudden emergency.

You may have heard of heart palpitations, but not entirely sure what they are or if they are serious.

Dr. Cameron Haery, cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, shares what you need to know about this condition:

What are heart palpitations?
Palpitations make your heart feel like it is beating too fast, fluttering, skipping a beat or pumping harder than usual. Typically, you feel palpitations in the chest, throat or neck, he says.

What causes palpitations?
There are several factors that influence why heart palpitations happen. Most of the time they aren’t harmful and in fact people usually have one at some time in their life and don’t even realize it. Heart palpitations can be caused by anxiety, stress, fear, caffeine, nicotine, diet pills or other stimulants.

Other medical conditions can bring on palpitations including infections, overactive thyroid, anemia, low blood sugar, diseases of the heart muscles, valves or coronary arteries and perimenopause., Dr. Haery adds.

When should I be concerned?
If you are experiencing palpitations that are infrequent and last only a few seconds, then don’t worry, he suggests. However, Dr. Haery recommends that if they are frequent, persistent and are accompanied by chest pain discomfort, fainting, dizziness, sweating and shortness of breath then you should seek immediate medical attention.

How do you diagnosis the condition?
Sometimes it’s hard for the doctor to fully determine what the cause of the palpitations is without the patient experiencing them first-hand at the doctor’s office. The best way a physician can determine the symptoms is by asking a few questions to better determine the cause. Questions may include your medical history, detailed questions about your symptoms, a review of any medication and/or herbal products, along with details about your diet, he says.

What is the best form of treatment?
Palpitations do not always require treatment, but your doctor will use diagnostic testing to make that determination. The tests may include an electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram.

Do you know your risk for heart disease? Take Advocate Heart Institute’s heart risk assessment here. If you are at high risk, see an Advocate cardiologist within 24 hours.

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About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.