Are Heart Palpitations Dangerous?

Are Heart Palpitations Dangerous?

Although often harmless, heart palpitations might indicate arrhythmia and other severe heart disease. The Department of Cardiology, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) informs more.

Heart palpitations are usually safe however they might likewise be brought on by heart conditions such as arrhythmia.

How Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like?

If you have this uncomfortable experience that your heart is beating too fast, pounding too hard or avoiding a beat, you may have a condition called heart palpitations. Though heart palpitations are generally safe, it is very important to eliminate any severe arrhythmias (unusual heart rhythms) or pre-existing heart problems.

Heart palpitations are an extremely frequent symptom in the basic population and it might represent about 15 percent of clinic assessments here at NHCS.

NHCS has really been seeing more patients with heart palpitations since 2008. “Our arrhythmia centers have increased from 5 sessions a week in 2008 to nine sessions a week this year,” adds Dr Ching.

Symptoms of Heart Palpitations

  • Fainting sensation
  • Light-headedness
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • Sluggish heart beat
  • Shortness of breath

What Causes Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations prevail in all age groups. “Heart palpitations amongst women and more youthful patients generally have a benign cause. Men and older patients are more likely to have palpitations brought on by arrhythmias,” states Dr Ching.

Benign heart palpitations can be triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol
  • Stimulant medications (weight loss pills, cough and cold medication)
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Nicotine
  • Fever

An Electrical Short-circuit in the Heart

Of greater issue are heart palpitations triggered by cardiac arrhythmias. Cardiac arrhythmias occur when there is a short-circuit in the electrical impulses managing your heart beat. This is what will cause your heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly.

When you have arrhythmia, your heart beat either goes extremely quickly, over 100 beats a minute (tachycardia) or extremely slow, less than 60 beats a minute (bradycardia).

Are Heart Palpitations Dangerous?

These arrhythmic heart palpitations can have dangerous ramifications:

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

This is a widespread arrhythmia in young adults This is experienced as a sudden burst of fast heartbeats that begin and end quickly, lasting for seconds or hours. SVT is generally not life threatening.

Atrial fibrillation

This fast and irregular palpitation occurs in the atria or upper chambers of the heart and could last a few minutes to an hour. Atrial fibrillation arrhythmias could end up being chronic and cause stroke. It is rarely deadly, but the heart palpitations might indicate underlying coronary artery disease or heart valve conditions.

Ventricular tachycardia (VT)

Ventricular tachycardia is a really rapid, but regular heartbeat of 100 beats or more a minute taking place in the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.

Continual heart palpitations lasting more than 30 seconds are considered a medical emergency. They could indicate pre-existing cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease or heart valve conditions.

Ventricular fibrillation (VF)

If ventricular tachycardia is left unattended, it will cause a lethal condition called ventricular fibrillation, characterised by extremely quick and very irregular heart beats. It usually precedes a cardiac arrest. You might lose consciousness within seconds and die within minutes.

Treatment of Heart Palpitations

Preventing caffeine, alcohol and giving up cigarette smoking can help.

Medical professionals would usually recommend oral medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to decrease heart rates in arrhythmias.

For supraventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation arrhythmias, catheter ablation– a non-surgical procedure using radiofrequency energy – is a possible treatment.

Heart valve disorders will need surgery.

When to look for emergency treatment

Look for immediate medical help if heart palpitations are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Severe chest pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Unusual sweating.
  • Loss of awareness.

It’s likewise important to seek advice from a doctor without hold-up if you have pre-existing heart conditions or a family history of unexpected death.


Last Update - November 18, 2017

References

The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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