We are sure that you would have come across these statements like, “I feel butterflies in my stomach.”, “My heart pounds when I talk to you…”, “I get tachycardia when I think about you.” Etc…
Alright, these are technically not the symptoms of people in love but the symptoms of those suffering from a rush of dopamine and adrenaline hormones in their body. English is a beautiful language, especially idioms! To be precise, we love idioms with medical terminology as we have already mentioned in the above example.
What does “Heart Pounds” or “Heart Palpitations” exactly mean?
Well, Heart Palpitations refers to the condition of your heart beating in an irregular interval like either skipping beats or extra beats than expected. You can even describe it with synonyms like “Heart fluttering or racing”.
This is common in all of us, all of us would have undergone this phenomenon at some point in our lifetime. Most of us would have experienced it after heavy workout sessions or running or doing excessive works. Hence, Heart Palpitations are not taken seriously and most often neglected.
But sometimes this can turn out to be bothersome and frightening. It even requires proper medical attention.
What are the common causes of Heart Palpitations?
Mentioned below are some of the most common reasons for heart palpitations,
- STRESS AND ANXIETY
Intense emotion can trigger the release of few hormones like Adrenaline that increases your heartbeat rapidly. It is a response of BFF i.e Body’s Flight or Fight Response. Panic attacks can cause heart palpitations too.
Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit. If you are a fitness freak or regular at exercising, you might feel your heart beating faster after the session. But if you exercise after a long break or if you were irregular in it, you experience heart palpitations which is a cause of arrhythmias and uneven heartbeats.
A variety of hormonal changes occurs during pregnancy. During pregnancy, few women commonly experience heart palpitations, which indicates low RBC (Red Blood Cells) count and hence decreased oxygen-carrying capacity, which are characteristics of Anemia.
Seems too complicated! Isn’t it? But it’s nothing but Fever. Yes, most of us would have experienced heart palpitations during fever, especially when the temperature rises above 100.4F.
Heart palpitations are the side-effects of certain prescribed medicines like,
- Asthma inhalers
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Antifungal drugs
- Thyroid pills
- Hypertensive pills
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Which is nothing but “Low Sugar Level in the blood” can cause heart palpitations too. Again it is due to the hormone called Adrenaline when a hypoglycemic patient skips a meal it can lead to a drop in blood sugar level and stress hormone like adrenaline is released to counteract the food shortage, which further leads to palpitations.
- THYROID GLAND DISORDER
The thyroid gland is an important endocrine gland that primarily governs the rate at which metabolism occurs in individual cells. It is present in the anterior aspect of the neck. The hormone produced by the thyroid gland increases the heart rate by increasing the sensitivity of Beta receptors to catecholamine. It is seen in Hyperthyroidism.
- HEART RHYTHM PROBLEMS
Sometimes Arrhythmia can cause,
- Ventricular tachycardia means rapid heart rate in the Ventricles of the heart.
- Supraventricular tachycardia i.e abnormally faster heart rate in the upper chambers of the heart
- Atrial fibrillation or AFib where atria start fluttering instead of beating regularly.
- PREMATURE VENTRICULAR CONTRACTIONS
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are additional heartbeats. It happens when the ventricles of the heart squeeze quickly. The extra beat skips the heart’s normal rhythm and makes it flutter, pound, or jump in the chest.
PCVs do not require serious attention if one’s heart is healthy, but when one suffers from any other heart diseases, then this must be treated immediately.
Banned drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and cannabinoids are highly dangerous to the heart. Cocaine boosts blood pressure, increases heart rate, and damages the cardiac muscles.
Amphetamines stimulate the nervous system, which raises the heartbeat. Ecstasy is one kind of drug that triggers the release of a chemical called Norepinephrine, which makes the heart beat faster.
Diagnosis of Heart Palpitations
Sometimes, a simple blood test can reveal the cause of the heart palpitations however there are many tests like,
- Event Monitor
- Holter Monitor
- Chest X-RAY
- Coronary Angiography
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Treatment of Heart Palpitations
An exemption to few disorders in medicine, none of the diseases can be treated without a cause. Diagnosis of a disorder requires symptoms followed by a cause.
Thus, Heart Palpitations are treatable, but only a physician can respond concerning the cause of the palpitations.
In case, if the cause of your heart palpitation is difficult to be diagnosed then the physician advises you to avoid the things that trigger the response.
How to prevent Heart Palpitations
Sometimes, few disorders don’t require treatment if one can prevent them.
Heart Palpitations can be prevented by,
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Following healthy diet
- Minimizing alcohol intake
- Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Breathing exercises
Frequently Asked Question
Yes, coffee contains a chemical called “caffeine”, which most of us are aware of. Yet we take it even after knowing the side effects of using it. Excessive intake of caffeine stimulates rapid heart rate in people with arrhythmic issues related to the heart.
The chemical present in tobacco products called “Nicotine” is responsible for causing heart palpitations. Nicotine stimulates heart rate thereby causing palpitations. Nicotine withdrawal can also again leads to rapid palpitations.
A physician asks about the patients’:
– Health conditions
– Sleep patterns
– Stress level
– Medication status
– In female, menstrual history
– Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine intake
The patients may experience symptoms like,
– Passing out suddenly
– Shortness of breath
– Tightness or pain in the chest