Heart Palpitations Treatment

The heart can sometimes beat irregularly or at a higher or lower rate than normal. This is called an arrhythmia, which is very often experienced as a feeling of “skipped beats” or “palpitations”.

What Are Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations are the sensation of being aware of your heart beating. They are a common issue and not usually one that is a serious cause for concern. The feeling can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and you may feel them in areas like your chest and neck.

Heart palpitations may feel like a fluttering, thudding or pounding in your chest, and many people find the sensation unpleasant. They can occur whether you are active or resting, but they are rarely a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

man taking a deep breath whilst leaning against railings

When To Worry About Heart Palpitations

Most often, heart palpitations are nothing to worry about. Frequently, palpitations can be caused by your lifestyle or stress levels. Some of the common causes of heart palpitations include:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Exercise

If these are the cause of your palpitations, then the symptoms should disappear within a few minutes. In some rare cases, palpitations can be a symptom of a much more serious condition like arrhythmia. Arrhythmias can be persistent, but more often appear intermittently. There are many different forms of arrhythmias. Some of them are not a cause for concern, but others are linked with significant heart abnormalities.

Talk to your doctor if you experience regular palpitations, arrhythmias or palpitations that last longer than a few minutes. See your doctor urgently if any of these symptoms accompany your heart palpitations:

These can be symptoms of a range of heart health conditions, including a heart attack or arrhythmia. If you are urgently concerned for your health or suspect you might be having a heart attack, you should call 999 for urgent medical attention.

man receiving a heart check up

Arrhythmia Symptoms

A heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat caused by the electric signals that coordinate the heart’s beating failing to work as they should. This might cause the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. It is crucial to get checked out by your doctor if you notice the symptoms of arrhythmia. These include:

  • Tachycardia – an abnormally rapid heartbeat 
  • Bradycardia – an abnormally slow heartbeat 
  • Chest pain 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Sweating 
  • Fainting 
  • Dizziness

It is important to note that many of the symptoms of arrhythmia are similar to those experienced during an anxiety attack. You should get in touch with your doctor as soon as you can, who will be able to rule out different causes. They will also be able to direct you to help manage anxiety if this is the cause of your symptoms. 

What Causes Heart Palpitations

There are many causes of heart palpitations, with most being relatively benign and often related to lifestyle. It may also be related to your heart, so it is critical to get checked out by your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Some of the causes of palpitations can include:

  • Intense emotions, typically stress, anxiety and fear 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Strenuous activity 
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Long-term effects of COVID-19
  • Some medications 
  • Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine or some illegal recreational drugs

You might also experience palpitations if you have some medical conditions such as fevers, thyroid issues, dehydration or anaemia. Certain foods may also trigger heart palpitations. Consider cutting these foods out of your diet if this is the case. 

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Heart Palpitations At Night

Heart palpitations can happen at any time, but some people experience them more at night than others. This is very common and can be due to the fact that we notice palpitations more when we are at rest compared to when we’re going about our day.  

The symptoms of palpitations at night are similar to those during the day, including a thudding, fluttering or pounding in your chest and neck. You might also feel your heartbeat in your ear if you sleep on your side. Palpitations at night may be caused by the position in which you sleep. If you sleep hunched up on your side, this might be the cause of your palpitations. Consider trying a different position to see if this helps. 

How Long Do Heart Palpitations Last?

Heart palpitations normally last from a few seconds to a few minutes. If your palpitations are lasting longer than this, you should seek professional medical advice as soon as possible. Palpitations can be unpleasant, even if they last only a few seconds. Avoiding triggers is the main way to prevent heart palpitations, and it may take some trial and error to find out what your specific triggers are. 

Doctor checking patient. Doctor examines a patient with a stethoscope. Health, Hospital and Medical concept.

Heart Palpitations Treatment

The treatment needed for your palpitations will depend on the cause. Your doctor will be able to give you more detailed information to help you manage the different health issues that could be causing your palpitations. If you don’t require medical treatment, you can manage your palpitations at home in various ways. Cutting out trigger foods and drinks can be invaluable. You can also try: 

  • Reducing your stress levels 
  • Breathing exercises 
  • Changing the position you sleep in 
  • Avoiding stimulants and illegal drugs 
  • Staying hydrated and eating healthily

For more information, please read our article on the 3 top tips to stop heart palpitations.

When To See A Cardiologist

Heart palpitations aren’t pleasant, but they are not usually a cause for concern. However, it is still vital to seek a formal diagnosis from a medical professional as they may be a symptom of an underlying issue. There is a range of heart tests that your cardiologist might use to ensure your heart is healthy. These include:

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a cardiac test that is used to monitor a patient’s electrical activity and heart rhythm. Your cardiologist will attach sensors to your chest. These are used to detect electrical signals produced by your heart.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is essentially an ultrasound scan of your heart. The test is done with the use of a plastic probe which will be placed on your chest. Ultrasound gel is also used to cover the probe. It is a similar scan to the ultrasound scan done during pregnancy. This non-invasive test is painless and does not require sedation or involve radiation.

Coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram utilises X-ray imaging to see your heart’s blood vessels. This invasive procedure uses contrast (dye) that is injected inside the arteries of the heart to check for partially or totally blocked arteries.

Cardiac MRI

A cardiac MRI scan is a non-invasive test that generates radio and magnetic waves to display detailed images of the inside of your heart. This test is performed with the help of an MRI scanner. You will be lying on the MRI table for 30-45min, while the scanner is collating images of your heart. This is a painless test that does not use radiation or any form of sedation.

Book An Appointment With Expert Cardiologist

It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your heart health. While palpitations are not a cause for concern in most cases, it is best to get checked out to ensure all is well. Book a cardiologist appointment today at Expert Cardiologist for the best care and peace of mind you deserve. 

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