Heart Palpitation

What is Heart Palpitation?

Does your heart unexpectedly start to race or pound, or feel like it keeps skipping beats? These sensations are known as palpitations. It is the sensation of feeling your own heart beating. Some people feel palpitation in their ears when they are lying down.

Most palpitations are caused by a harmless hiccup in the heart’s rhythm while a few reflect a problem in the heart or elsewhere in the body. In rare cases, they can be a symptom of a more serious heart condition, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), so you should visit your doctor to get checked, just in case.

Symptoms of palpitations

People experience heart palpitations in different ways such as

  • Skipping beats
  • Fluttering rapidly
  • Beating too fast
  • Pounding
  • Flip-flopping
  • Murmuring

You might feel heart palpitations in your throat or neck, as well as your chest. They can occur when you’re active or at rest.

Common causes of heart palpitations

  • Strong emotional responses, such as stress, anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Too much alcohol and stimulants
  • Fever
  • Hormone changes associated with menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
  • Too much or too little thyroid hormone
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • Drugs and medications such as cocaine, amphetamines, diet pills, some cough and cold remedies, some antibiotics, thyroid hormone, digoxin, or asthma remedies
  • Prior heart attack

Other Causes

For palpitations caused by a heart condition, possible complications may include:

Fainting. If your heart beats rapidly and your blood pressure drops, it can cause you to faint. This is more likely if you have a heart problem, such as congenital heart disease or certain valve problems.

Cardiac arrest. Palpitations can be caused by life-threatening arrhythmias. This can cause your heart to stop beating effectively.

Stroke. Palpitations may be due to Atrial fibrillation which is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat caused by chaotic electrical activity in the heart’s upper chambers. As a result, blood can pool and cause clots to form. If a clot breaks loose, it can block a brain artery, causing a stroke.

Heart failure. This can result if your heart is not pumping effectively for a prolonged period which is due to an arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation.

Heart palpitations rarely require treatment, unless your doctor finds that you have a heart condition.

Note: If you experience palpitations with shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or fainting, visit the hospital or call your doctor right away. These may be signs of a serious heart problem.

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