Why you shouldn’t ignore that fluttering feeling in your chest

Why you shouldn’t ignore that fluttering feeling in your chest

You might feel like a fluttering in your chest or lightheaded feeling could be a passing moment that you’ll get over.

But you shouldn’t ignore it, as it could be an increasingly common heart problem that could raise your risk for stroke by up to five times.

About 2 percent of Americans under age 65 and 9 percent over that age have a type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Known as AFib, the condition means that blood isn’t flowing properly from the top chambers of your heart, and it’s becoming more common as the U.S. population gets older. It contributes to 130,000 deaths each year.

Left untreated, you’re five times more likely to have a stroke, and strokes for people with AFib can be more severe, according to the CDC.

Dr. Arshad Jahangir, a cardiovascular specialist and medical director of the Center for Advanced Atrial Fibrillation therapies based at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wis., describes what symptoms might mean you have AFib:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular and fast pulse
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Easily fatigued

“Don’t ignore these warning symptoms,” Dr. Jahangir says.

If feelings of these symptoms come and go quickly, Dr. Jahangir says you should tell your doctor. If you are feeling sudden chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness that lasts for more than 10 minutes, you should seek immediate help, he says.

Factors that could increase your risk for AFib include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heavy alcohol use and presence of underlying heart disease.

Dr. Jahangir says that many patients can get AFib under control with medicine and lifestyle changes, especially if it’s treated early. Other treatment options are available and should be discussed with your physician.

“The most important thing is to find this early so we can treat it and it doesn’t cause something more serious, like a stroke or heart failure,” Dr. Jahangir says.

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more by clicking here.

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  1. When I go to the doctor with fleeting chest pain, they see my low blood pressure and my young age and tell me I’m fine… even though nearly everyone on my mom’s side of the family has had a stroke or an embolism. I tell them that and they just shrug.

    I’m preparing to die early if I can’t find a doctor who takes that kind of family risk seriously.

    • I believe you 100% I’ve been sick for way to many years and tried to get medical help over and over again and nothing ever happens all they do is take your money and tell you good luck with your conditions.
      I am sorry to hear about your condition it’s aggravating the way they treat us as human beings that in itself makes me sick…

    • Hi R,I have numerous health issues where I spent years trying to get answers,only to pretty much be told,”It’s all in my head!”Once I had a Dr. prescribe me a med.,that should have never been given to me due to another med I was on.I honestly ended up dying&coming back!Ever since then I realized I am in charge of my health care!Tell your Dr. this REALLY concerns you&you are demanding that the correct tests be done!If they don’t follow through tell them you will need to see a different Dr. who will listen to you! No 1 should ignore your symptoms, especially w/your family history. W/many inherited disorders,it’s better to know A.S.A.P. so any treatments can be started early.You deserve to know if something is wrong! Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re automatically healthy.I wish you good health& answers.

  2. R & James Dean, You are your own best Advocate and yo need to see the right specialist. Have your Primary Care Doctor order and Echo every year and get an order for a 48hr holter to be placed when having increased symptoms. This records Arrhythmias/ rhythms of your heart non stop for 48 hrs . If it doesn’t catch what your trying to show them than ask them to order a 30 day patch monitor. This records and reports all abnormal activity for a 30 day period. it will catch it. it reports your beats per minute so if it gets below a normal blood pressure causing your pulse to fall normal it will report. You should never live in fear of dyeing. You need to pursue the answers you seek and knowledge is power. Good Luck
    Cardiologist for Plumbing, Electrophysiology for Electrical work of the heart. Aurora has one of the Greatest Groups of Electrophysiologists located in Lake Geneva, Burlington and St Lukes. 777.

About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.