When your heart skips a beat, you say that you're in love. But in the medical sense of the term, palpitations are irregular beating of the heart that makes it seem like it skips or stops beating temporarily. Also called by other names such as racing heart or rapid heart rate, the rapid beating can reverberate in your chest up to your throat and neck.
People experience palpitations at one time or another. In most cases, it shouldn't raise any concern. It goes away after a few seconds and it doesn't mean abnormal rhythm or arrhythmia.
There are a number of causes that bring about palpitation. The most common reasons according to the National Institutes of Health include exercise, anxiety, fear, stress, fever, caffeine and nicotine.
In some cases, palpitations are caused by more serious factors such as use of cocaine, asthma drugs, thyroid pills or diet pills or underlying medical conditions which include overactive thyroid, anemia, hyperventilation, low levels of oxygen in the blood, or disease of the heart muscle or coronary arteries.
Palpitations are common in people with significant risk factors for heart disease or structural heart problems.
How to deal with Palpitations
If you experience palpitations for the first time, it's important to bring this to the attention of your doctor. He/she will investigate to determine the root cause of your rapid heart beating. Treatment would then depend on the findings of the doctor. It's possible that you'll be referred to an electrophysiologist, a doctor who specializes in heart rhythm disorders.
Other than this, you should also seek immediate medical condition if you're experiencing a different kind of palpitation. If you have risk factors for heart disease like if you have family history or if your rapid heartbeat isn't due to stress, anxiety, fever or exercising, it's also necessary to visit your doctor right away.
For emergency situations, wherein palpitations are accompanied by extreme pain in the chest, unusual sweating, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath, call up 911 immediately. You may be experiencing a heart attack or some other urgent medical condition.
As mentioned earlier, most palpitations are not serious, and therefore they don't require medical treatment. However, to avoid having palpitations, it would be best to tone down on stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and diet pills. Stay away from stress and anxiety, which can instantly trigger rapid beating of the heart. Take time to relax and have a break from your stressful life to give your heart a chance to rest.
In addition to these, you also need to have a healthier lifestyle. Doing exercises at least 30 minutes a day can help keep your heart healthy. Be sure to have a proper diet in order to control levels of blood pressure and cholesterol in the body.
If you suspect that your palpitations are due from serious medical condition, don't hesitate to see your doctor right away. Just because most palpitations are not serious doesn't mean that yours should be automatically dismissed as such.