Heart Palpitations put simply, are an awareness of your heartbeat.
What are heart palpitations?
This is often described as a sensation of pounding, fluttering, beating irregularly or missing beats and is often referred to as an arrhythmia. These may occur for only a few seconds, some minutes or longer periods of time. In most patients, palpitations are usually harmless and are not a sign of a problem with your heart. In some circumstances, palpitations may be associated with other symptoms such as dizziness, loss of consciousness, chest pains or breathlessness and in this situation, or if symptoms are recurrent without a clear cause, early assessment with a cardiologist should be sought.
What causes heart palpitations?
Palpitations may be triggered by stress, anxiety, exercise, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol, smoking, and using recreational drugs. In some cases, palpitations can be triggered by certain medications or an overactive thyroid gland or as a result of hormonal changes that occur during periods, pregnancy or the menopause. Occasionally, there will be an underlying cause of the palpitations, such as arrhythmias called Atrial Fibrillation (AF), Atrial Flutter or Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) and, very rarely, due to Ventricular Tachycardia (VT).
How are my palpitations assessed and what treatment will I need if I have palpitations?
A careful history and examination is an important part of your assessment if you have symptoms of palpitation. Your
cardiologist will want to perform an Electrocardiogram (ECG) and in most cases an Echocardiogram and Ambulatory ECG Monitoring (a heart monitor you wear for 1 or more days) to assess the type and frequency of the arrhythmia you are experiencing. It may be necessary to arrange additional tests such as an Exercise Stress Test or prolonged ambulatory monitoring, and further investigations may be required to delineate the underlying cause in some patients. For others, simple reassurance and avoidance of triggers may be the only treatment required. Occasionally further treatments may be required to deal with the underlying cause.
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We believe the best cardiac care can only be achieved by the best cardiologists in their fields, working together, for you and your heart. Our consultants are able to offer appointments throughout the week and at weekends.