Palpitations are feelings of an irregular heartbeat. They are often described as 'pounding' 'racing' or 'fluttering' and are very common. Palpitations may be a symptom of a cardiovascular condition, although are more commonly completely harmless and not linked to any underlying condition. There is no need for immediate concern if you get palpitations, but if they become more common medical advice should be sought.
Causes of Palpitations
- High caffeine intake.
- High alcohol intake.
- Medications (including thyroid, asthma and decongestant medications).
- Recreational drug use.
- Stress or anxiety.
- Strenuous exercise.
The following conditions may be the cause of palpitations:
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).
- Thyroid disease.
- Adrenal gland tumour.
- Heart disease.
- Lung disease.
What Should I do if I Get Palpitations?
The first point to make is not to worry! As already mentioned, palpitations are very common are usually not due to a serious medical condition.
If palpitations occur regularly, if you have a family history of heart problems or you are worried at all, you should visit your Doctor as soon as possible. Your Doctor will then decide if further investigations need to be undertaken based on your symptoms and medical history. These may include an ECG (Electrocardiogram). Depending on the results of your ECG, your doctor may refer you or reassure you that thee are no associated problems.
Treatment of Palpitations
The management of palpitations will depend on the results of tests such as the ECG and treatment of any associated conditions. If no such conditions are present, lifestyle factors (as shown above) should be addressed to determine if they may be the cause.