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Other Names:
Irregular Heartbeat, Heart Pounding, Fluttering In the Chest, Heart Doing a Flip-Flop, Racing Heart Beat
Palpitation

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Definition

Heart palpitations are an uncomfortable awareness of the heart beating rapidly or irregularly like the heart is skipping a beat or there is an extra heart beat. Sometimes the pulsations of rapidly beating heart can be visible or felt in the neck.

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Causes

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive use of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Mitral valve stenosis
  • Tachycardia or rapid heart rate
  • Extra heart beat or extra systole
  • Arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Medication such as thyroid pills, caffeine, appetite suppressants, anti-asthmatics (such as Theo-Dur), anti-arrhythmics, beta blockers, cocaine, psychotropics, and sympathomimetics
  • Metabolic and respiratory disorders such as respiratory acidosis, metabolic acidosis, hyperventilation and hypoxemia
  • Stress, anxiety, nervousness, fear, excitement
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Exercise

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What You Can Do

  • Follow your physician's prescribed treatment and advice to treat the underlying cause.

  • Palpitations due to heart disease are usually accompanied by light headedness or fainting.

  • Combination of emotional support, psychological counselling and anxiolytic medications like benzodiazepines are helpful to relieve the symptoms of palpitation due to anxiety.

  • Some effective coping strategies include encouraging fearful patients to confront the problem directly, to try to view the situation as a problem to be solved or as a challenge, to try to obtain complete information, to try to be flexible (taking things as they come), to think of major events as a series of step-by-step tasks, and to encourage the use of resources and support.

  • Behavioral interventions like hypnosis, meditation, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and biofeedback can be used to treat anxiety symptoms that are associated with painful procedures, pain syndromes, crisis situations, anticipatory fears, and depressive syndromes.

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Palpitation