Your pet/child/family member sneaks up on you while you’re deep in thought and you jump in response, your heart racing and fluttering for a few seconds. Or, you’re heading into a situation that makes you nervous, perhaps a job interview, and you feel your heart flip-flopping and racing. Or, your heart flutters after a long run for a few moments.
These moments are common, and the heart flutter response is one that almost everyone experiences from time to time. They usually aren’t cause for concern.
If, however, you have heart palpitations for no reason, and they’re ongoing, the team here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists wants to investigate further.
The many sides of heart palpitations
Earlier, we outlined a few scenarios in which you might experience heart palpitations, and these are perfectly normal and mostly harmless. When you’re nervous, anxious, or scared, your fight-or-flight response kicks into gear and releases stress hormones that raise your heart rate. This sudden increase in heart rate is designed to get you ready to either fight the threat or run away.
Unfortunately, for the 40 million adults in the United States who have an anxiety disorder, related heart palpitations can occur with some frequency.
Heart palpitations, including heart fluttering, can also occur because of medications that raise your heart rate, such as asthma or cold medications. A morning cup of coffee can also raise your heart rate and occasionally lead to palpitations thanks to the caffeine.
Our concern is that your occasional heart palpitations might stem from a cardiac issue, such as an arrhythmia, heart disease, or a valve issue.
To break the above common causes of heart palpitations, one study found that:
- 43% of palpitations are related to heart health
- 31% are rooted in psychiatric issues (anxiety, etc.)
- 10% were miscellaneous (medications, caffeine, etc.)
The balance is spread out among other, less common issues.
Heart issues that make your heart flutter
If you feel a flutter in your heart from time to time, one of the more common cardiac-related causes is an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation (AFib), which will affect more than 12 million Americans by 2030.
With AFib, the upper chambers of your heart, your atria, beat irregularly — they flutter instead of beat. As a result, blood isn’t pumped efficiently through your heart, and it can pool in your atria and lead to a dangerous blood clot.
Another issue that can lead to heart fluttering is valvular disease, your heart contains four valves, and if they malfunction and leak or they become narrowed, you can experience occasional heart palpitations because of irregular heartbeats.
So, if you haven’t figured this out already, if you're experiencing these occasional heart flutters, for no apparent reason, we want to evaluate these palpitations. To get started, please contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.