How Serious Are Heart Palpitations?

When your heart beats regularly, you rarely notice it. But when it flutters or skips, it captures your attention. These heart

Most of the time, your heart beats regularly and you don’t notice it. But sometimes, a skip, flutter, or change in heart rate can catch your attention. These irregular heartbeats can happen while you’re active or at rest, and they might make you worry about the health of your heart.

Irregular heartbeats, also called heart palpitations, can be unnerving, but they generally aren’t a sign of something more serious. But if you experience palpitations regularly — or if you have an underlying heart condition — make an appointment to have your heart examined. 

Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute in Newark and Secaucus, New Jersey, have the expertise to diagnose and treat many common heart issues, including heart palpitations.

Understanding heart palpitations

Heart palpitations occur when your heartbeat changes pace. It might feel like a fluttering, a skipped beat, or a pounding sensation. Some people feel palpitations in the chest, while others notice them in their throat or neck.

The way palpitations feel can vary greatly from person to person, but no matter how they feel, many people find them worrisome. The truth is that they’re most often the result of factors not related to your heart, which can include:

Some health conditions can make it more likely that you’ll experience heart palpitations. These include anemia, thyroid disease, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Pregnancy can also be a cause of heart palpitations.

When heart palpitations should be checked out

Don’t hesitate to visit our team if you’re concerned about your heart. Unless you have a pre-existing heart condition, most heart palpitations are a rare occurrence. But even if your heart palpitations aren’t a sign of a more serious health issue, getting checked out can help put your mind at ease.

If your heart palpitations are accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or loss of consciousness, seek immediate medical attention. If you have a known heart condition, such as a prior heart attack, heart disease, or coronary artery disease, seeking care for heart palpitations can help your heart stay strong.

Heart palpitations generally happen quickly, and the irregular heartbeat is gone by the time you come in to the office. Consider keeping notes when you experience a palpitation, and come to your appointment prepared to talk about your symptoms.

The doctor performs a physical exam and listens to your heartbeat. If your heart palpitations are caused by a murmur, he can detect irregular sounds and potential issues with your heart’s valves through this exam.

We may recommend additional testing depending on your symptoms and medical history. A blood test can evaluate the possibility of thyroid imbalance, low potassium, or anemia. Another common test to evaluate heart palpitations is an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Once we determine the cause of your heart palpitations, we can prescribe treatment to help your heartbeat stay normal. In many cases, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and getting more sleep can lead to significant improvements in your heart health.

Find top-quality care for your heart at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. If you’re concerned about heart palpitations, call one of our offices today or book an appointment online.

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