Ever Had Heart Palpitations?

Never take your heart for granted. It works hard for you every moment of your life. If you ever have doubt that your heart may be in a little trouble, see your medical provider.

There are many things to learn about having heart palpitations.  Your heart seems to pound, flutter or skip beats.  They can feel quite scary but most aren’t serious and will rarely need treatment. Don’t panic if your heart races, but know what makes it race and what to do when it happens as well as to when to call your doctor.

Stress & anxiety are intense emotions that can trigger the release of hormones and speed up your heartbeat.  Even if you aren’t in danger, your body reacts and gets ready to face a threat.  The attacks are intense bouts of fear lasting a few minutes.  Symptoms can include a racing heart, sweating, chills, trouble breathing and chest pain.  If you aren’t sure if you are truly having a heart attack, get medical help.

Exercise is good for you but will make your heart beat faster.  It pumps more blood from your heart to power the muscles through the workout.  When out of condition it’s normal for your heart to flutter or pound.

After partaking of that morning latte the caffeine, as a stimulant, will raise your heart rate.  This happens from coffee, soda, energy drink, tea, chocolate or other sources.  If you have healthy hearts these drinks aren’t likely to cause palpitations.

The nicotine in cigarettes and tobacco products do raise your blood pressure and speeds up your heart rate.  Not smoking is the best thing you can do for your heart.  Those patches and nicotine replacement products can also make your heart race.

Sometimes women may notice their heartbeat speeding up when they have their period, pregnant or close to menopause.  The hormone levels are the reason for this.  This is usually temporary so not to worry.

Fever during an illness can set off palpitations as your body uses energy at a faster pace than usual.  It will usually happen if your temperature is above 100.4 in order to affect your heart rate.

These medicines and OTC meds can cause palpitations as a side effect.  They are antibiotics, anti fungal meds, antipsychotic drugs, asthma inhalers, cough and cold meds, diet pills, high blood pressure meds and thyroid pills.  Be sure to consult with your doctor to see if it could affect your heartbeat.

Low blood sugar can lead to palpitations as your body then releases stress hormones like adrenaline to prepare for an emergency food shortage and that speeds up the heart rate.

Your thyroid makes hormones that help manage your metabolism and other things. When overactive it can make too much thyroid hormone that speeds up your heart enough that you feel it beating in your chest.

Heart rhythm problems, or arrhythmia cause palpitations such as: atrial fibrillation, supra ventricular tachycardia and ventricular tachycardia.

Drinking a lot of alcohol can make you feel the heart is beating faster or fluttering,  sometimes called “holiday heart syndrome” because of the extra drinking on holidays.

Extra heartbeats are called premature ventricular contractions or (PVCs) and happen when the heart’s ventricles squeeze too soon and throws off the heart’s normal rhythm. Cocaine and other street drugs are dangerous to the heart and can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting.

Tests to find the cause are electrocardiogram (ECG), holter monitor, event monitor and echocardiogram.  If you have concerns be sure to contact your doctor.

Dr Fredda Branyon