Heart Palpitation

A heart palpitation is the perception from the patient of the heart beats. Normally heart beats aren’t felt and they are felt under special circumstances.

What types of heart problems (arrhythmias are associated with palpitations?

Usually palpitations are felt in people that have:

1.       Tachycardia 

2.       Arrhythmia (premature heart beats, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia etc.)

3.       Heart blocks

Some of these arrhythmias are self-limiting and doesn’t require any special examinations or precautions. Other are life threatening and if not properly treated and evaluated they may be lethal.

Where to seek medical attention?

You should seek immediate medical attention in case that the palpitation is associated with dyspnea, fatigue, profuse sweating, chest discomfort, faint etc. In these cases you should go immediately to ER to exclude any life threatening situation.

Which are the most common causes of palpitations?

- Heart disease

Heart disease including ischemic heart disease, hypertension, cardiac valve disease, myocarditis, pericarditis etc. can be the cause of palpitations

- Gastro esophageal reflux disease and other gastrointestinal problems
Stomach is in close contact with heart and any inflammation or distention of stomach or other abdominal organs may be accompanied with palpitations.

This is why GERD, hiatal hernia, cholecistitis and other gastro intestinal problems may be the cause of palpitations.

- Hormonal misbalance

Hormones are essential in the controlling of body and heart activities. Thyroid hormone misbalance may cause palpitations.
- Drug abuse
Cocaine and other drug abuse may be the cause of palpitations.
- Infection
This condition is associated with tachycardia and palpitations.

What examinations are done in a patient with palpitations?

-          ECG

If you are having palpitations the first thing that you should do is to do an ECG. ECG is essential to find out exactly what type of arrhythmia you are having.

-          Holter monitoring

If the basal ECG doesn’t show any arrhythmia than Holter monitoring is essential for the diagnosis of arrhythmia.

-          Cardiac ECHO

It is essential for the evaluation of palpitations because it will help to evaluate heart structure and heart valves. Any damage on heart structure or valves may be the cause of palpitations.

-          Hormonal balance        

Hormones influence in heart work and hormonal abnormalities (especially thyroid hormones) may be the cause of arrhythmias.

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About me Dr Benard Shehu
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