Your heartbeat's steady rhythm feels so normal you don't typically notice it — which is why a fluttering sensation or feeling like you skipped a beat can be disturbing. Fortunately, occasional heart palpitations aren't usually a sign of a problem.
However, if you have persistent palpitations or feel like your heart is constantly racing, it's a good idea to check in with Satjit Bhusri, MD, FACC, at Upper East Side Cardiology in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. Dr. Bhusri is an experienced cardiologist who can diagnose the cause of your palpitations, offering personalized treatment when necessary.
About heart palpitations
Heart palpitations are the sensations of a fast-beating, pounding, or fluttering heart. Some patients describe the feeling like your heart is flip-flopping in your chest or skipping regular rhythmic beats.
You can experience heart palpitations when you're active or at rest. In most cases, palpitations only happen every now and then and last for just a few seconds at a time.
Heart palpitations have many potential causes, including:
- Physical exercise
- Strong emotional responses
Certain medications, illegal drugs, nicotine, or caffeine can also trigger fluttering feelings in your chest.
Some women might experience heart palpitations during pregnancy. Your body changes to accommodate the new life inside of it, which can stress your circulatory system. Heart palpitations can also occur during a woman’s monthly period and during the transition to menopause.
When to talk to a doctor about heart palpitations
Occasional and brief heart palpitations — for example, if you overexert yourself or drink too much coffee — are generally nothing to worry about. However, you should schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Bhusri if you have existing heart issues or notice that your palpitations are becoming more frequent or severe.
Persistent or severe heart palpitations could be a warning sign of issues affecting your heart or other body systems. You could have arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), atrial fibrillation, heart disease, or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid disorder).
You should also make an appointment at Upper East Side Cardiology if you have other warning signs of a cardiovascular health issue, such as:
- Chest pain
- Severe dizziness
- Sudden shortness of breath
Without treatment, severe arrhythmias can lead to potentially life-threatening issues, including heart attack and stroke.
Diagnosing the cause of heart palpitations
When you have ongoing palpitations and other symptoms of a possible heart condition, Dr. Bhusri provides comprehensive exams and offers various in-office diagnostic technologies. He can identify the root cause of your palpitations quickly and accurately.
Dr. Bhusri often orders lab tests to check for hormone imbalances caused by an underlying thyroid disorder. He may also recommend heart monitoring tests, including an echocardiogram, and electrocardiogram (ECG), and a stress test.
If your in-office testing is inconclusive, Dr. Bhusri might recommend that you wear a Holter monitor. This portable ECG device records your heart's electrical activity for at least 24 hours. Holter monitors detect arrhythmias and record heart palpitations in real time, as you wear it continuously as you go about your usual activities.
Treating heart palpitations
After Dr. Bhusri diagnoses the cause of your heart palpitations, he creates a personalized treatment plan. Depending on your condition, he might prescribe medications or recommend a pacemaker to regulate your heartbeat and protect your overall heart health.
If stress or strong emotions are the root cause of your fluttering heart, Dr. Bhusri can suggest stress management and relaxation techniques. Daily, low-impact exercises and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet not only help you manage stress, but also support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. You might even find that deep breathing techniques, yoga, or tai chi can relax your body.
Call Upper East Side Cardiology or request an appointment online if you experience frequent or persistent heart palpitations. Your heart health is essential, and it's better to have a potential issue checked out as early as possible.