Something gives you a fright and your heart flutters in your chest, which is perfectly normal as adrenaline floods your body. If you routinely experience a fluttering heart with no obvious cause, however, this could be the sign of a potentially serious arrhythmia.
To help you discern the difference, our team of cardiology experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists decided to spend some time here exploring what it might mean when your heart flutters.
A flutter in your chest is what we call a heart palpitation, which is a heartbeat of which you’re aware. Under normal circumstances, your heart beats about 100,000 times a day, and you’re none the wiser as this organ quietly and efficiently delivers oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your body.
When you have a heart palpitation, however, you sense your heartbeats, which can present themselves in many ways, such as:
There are many reasons why you may temporarily feel your heartbeat, such as the fright we referenced above, after a strenuous workout, or even after drinking something caffeinated.
The fluttering may also be a result of an irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, which is why you should pay close attention to the sensations, which can point toward different types of arrhythmias.
A fluttering sensation in your chest is a specific type of heart palpitation that may indicate an atrial flutter. This condition is the result of an arrhythmia that causes tachycardia, which is a fast heartbeat (more than 100 beats a minute).
Each beat of your heart is initiated by an electrical impulse that’s sent out from your sinus node, which is located in your right atrium. This impulse then travels through your atria (the two upper chambers of your heart) and your ventricles (the two lower chambers), causing the chambers to contract in a coordinated way to push blood through your heart and lungs.
With an atrial flutter, you have a rapidly firing electrical circuit in your atrium, which causes your atria to beat quickly, but can also cause your ventricles to beat faster than normal.
An atrial flutter is often caused by previous damage to your heart, whether because of disease or surgery. That said, an atrial flutter can develop for reasons unknown.
Though an atrial flutter is the most likely arrhythmia that involves a fluttering sensation, other arrhythmias that lead to tachycardia can also cause this type of heart palpitation.
The best way to find out whether you’re dealing with an arrhythmia is to come see us for testing. Through advanced diagnostic tools, such as an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and a Hotler monitor, we can often identify the source of your heart palpitation.
If we find nothing wrong with the rhythm of your heart, we review your symptoms to pinpoint what’s causing the heart flutter. For example, medications can sometimes cause a rapid heartbeat, as well as some of the other items we’ve already discussed (caffeine, etc.)
To get to the bottom of your heart flutter, contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.