You race up a couple flights of stairs, and your heart feels like it’s going to jump out of your chest. Or, out of the blue, it feels like your heart is doing somersaults in your chest. These are both examples of heart palpitations that are driven by different conditions.
At Advanced Cardiology Specialists, our team feels that education is important when it comes to matters of the heart, especially with symptoms like heart palpitations, which can signal something quite serious or nothing at all.
Let’s take a look.
Understanding a heart palpitation
When we use the term palpitation, we’re referring to a heightened awareness of your heartbeat. Under normal circumstances, your heart pumps away — about 60-100 times per minute to be more precise — and you usually aren’t aware of this activity.
When you can sense your heartbeats, we call these heart palpitations. These sensations are often described as:
Heart palpitations can last for seconds, minutes, or hours, depending upon the circumstances, which we’ll get to next.
What creates heart palpitations
Many different things can lead to heart palpitations. Just think of the expression, “My heart skipped a beat,” when you’re excited or scared. Even the caffeine in a cup of coffee can lead to heart palpitations.
What we're getting at is that heart palpitations are often perfectly normal and can stem from everyday activities and emotions.
That said, a number of medical conditions can also lead to heart palpitations, such as:
- Hormone changes, such as menopause
- Thyroid issues
- Hypotension, or low blood pressure
- Stress or anxiety
As cardiologists, we’re concerned about cardiovascular conditions that count heart palpitations as a symptom. These include:
At the top of the list are arrhythmias, which are conditions in which your heart doesn’t maintain a normal rhythm — it’s too fast, too slow, or irregular. Up to 5% of the general population in the United States has an arrhythmia, the most common of which is atrial fibrillation, which leads to episodes of heart palpitations.
Evaluating your heart palpitations
As you can see, heart palpitations can be tricky as a symptom. If the condition is brief and for benign reasons, such as overexertion, there’s generally no need for concern.
If, however, you’re experiencing ongoing problems with heart palpitations, it’s a good idea to come see us so that we can get to the bottom of the problem. At the very least, we might be able to rule out a cardiovascular-related issue so that you can investigate other reasons for your heart palpitations.
Or, we might find that the symptom is related to your heart health, in which case we can take prompt action.
For expert diagnosis (and treatment) of your heart palpitations, please contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.