When you hear a term like, “heart palpitations,” it’s perfectly understandable that you’d jump to the most ominous conclusion, and you wouldn’t be wrong for doing so. Heart palpitations are one the hallmarks of a heart attack. But they’re also associated with running up stairs or drinking too much caffeine.
So, how do you differentiate between harmless palpitations and potentially dangerous ones?
Allow us to help. The team of heart health experts here at Upper East Side Cardiology, led by Dr. Satjit Bhusri, is focusing on heart palpitations in this blog post. In the following, we explore some important points about heart palpitations and when they might be cause for concern.
A heightened awareness
The first point we want to make is that, by definition, a heart palpitation is a heightened awareness of your heartbeat. Palpitations can feel like:
- Flip flopping
- Having an extra beat
The odds are high that you’ve experienced heart palpitations — you run up a flight of stairs and your heart races. Or, someone frightens you and it feels like your heart skips a beat. These are examples of everyday heart palpitations that are perfectly harmless.
But what about the ones that might portend something more serious?
When to investigate heart palpitations
As cardiologists, we have several concerns when it comes to heart palpitations, including:
A person has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States, and one of the complaints are heart palpitations. This symptom is often accompanied by chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, nausea, and dizziness. The symptoms often come on suddenly and they can be quite strong, and you need to call 911 immediately.
A heart arrhythmias is an irregular heart beat — it can be too fast, too slow, or abnormal. One of the most common arrhythmias is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which affects more than 12 million people in the US. With AFib, the upper and lower chambers of your heart aren’t in sync and you can have episodes in which you feel fluttering in your chest.
Outside of these two issues, you might have heart palpitations as part of other cardiovascular issues, such as congestive heart failure or valvular disease.
When your heart palpitations are related to cardiovascular function, the sensations are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue and edema.
Getting to the bottom of your heart palpitations
If you’re having heart palpitations and there’s no obvious cause, we suggest that you come in to see us. We have many testing options that can help us evaluate the function of your heart, such as an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or angiography.
For infrequent heart palpitations, we offer a unique monitoring tool called the Reveal LINQ® System, which we insert under your skin, and it sends us information about your heartbeat.
To figure out which diagnostic tools are best for your heart palpitations, we invite you to contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to schedule an appointment. You can also call (212) 752-3464.