Palpitations – Cause, Symptoms, Complications & Treatment


What are palpitations?

  • Heart palpitations are a sensation of irregular or rapid heartbeat. It feels like skipping the beat, fluttering or pounding
  • This sensation can be felt in the chest, neck and throat
  • In most cases, palpitations are harmless and resolve on its own. Rarely, these are an indication of a serious heart problem.

What are the symptoms of palpitations?

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness

What are the causes of palpitations?

Palpitations can result from many heart conditions includes:

  • Arrhythmia ( abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Other causes of palpitations include:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Depression
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Hormonal changes
  • Anaemia
  • Hypothyroidism/ Hyperthyroidism
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking 

What are the complications of palpitation?

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke: During irregular or rapid heartbeat of upper chambers of the heart (atrial fibrillation), Causes blood to lodge and form clots. If these blood clots break, they can travel into blood vessels of the brain which results in stroke

How are palpitations diagnosed?

  • Electrocardiogram: This is a noninvasive test, to check the electrical activity of the heart which determines rate and rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram: Utilizes ultrasound images to check chambers, valves of the heart
  • Holter monitoring: Patient is advised to wear a portable device to record continuous ECG for about 24 to 72 hours.
  • Event monitoring: If a patient presents a normal heartbeat during Holter monitoring or palpitation present weekly once, a doctor might recommend an event monitor. A small device intended to monitor heartbeat over a week to a month.

How are palpitation managed?

  • Beta-blockers to control the heart’s rhythm and rate
  • Manage stress levels
  • Avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine

Avoid alcohol intake


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