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Heart, Blood and Circulatory System :
Palpitations And Arrhythmias

Heartbeats that can be felt are called palpitations, and most palpitations are caused by an arrhythmia - an interruption in the rhythm of the heart. Palpitations or arrhythmias are usually experienced as the heart skipping a beat followed by an extra-strong heartbeat, or fast and irregular heartbeats.

Join our online group on palpitations and arrhythmias to learn more about the condition and ask your questions to experts in the field.

 

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1. What are the risks of having heart palpitations?

Palpitations do not usually damage the heart when it happens rarely. But certain fast heart beat for a very long time can cause some complications. It is important to diagnose the cause of your palpitations. While some arrhythmias are harmless, certain arrhythmias can lead to enlargement of the heart, stroke or even cause sudden death. These complications are rare and can be prevented if the diagnosis is made in time and treated promptly and correctly

2. What drugs or food substances affect palpitations?

Caffeinated beverages such as cocoa, coffee, tea, pepsi or coke are one of the common causes of palpitations. Too much alcohol also leads to fast heartbeat. Reducing the intake usually helps with the symptoms. Some cold medicines and decongestants are known to cause palpitations in high doses. Other examples of medication overdose are thyroid hormone replacements and certain antidepressants.

3. What is a holiday heart syndrome?

Heart palpitations or arrhythmias that occurs typically after a holiday following excessive alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol during holidays not only leads to an increase in road accidents and people’s waist line, it can also make your heart skip or run. Sometimes they have shortness of breath, chest pain or even faint. This syndrome is not life threatening, but people must realize that heavy drinking over a period of time can lead to irreversible heart damage. There are no concrete theories on how alcohol affects the heart. It is believed that it is related to the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine and increase in the fatty acids in blood. When alcohol is metabloised, acetaldehyde is released that can cause a delay in the heart’s conduction system. These patients are usually over 30years of age and have no history of heart disease. They do not have to be a chronic alcoholic either. The symptoms are transient. The heart reverts back to normal rhythm spontaneously if the patient abstains from alcohol. Sometimes antiarrhythmic drugs are required and rarely cardioversion to get the heart back into rhythm. Supraventricular tachycardia is the most commonly associated form of arrhythmia with the holiday heart. Atrial fibrillation is also widely associated with alcohol. In studies done in the US, 35% of new onset atrial fibrillation cases are related to alcohol abuse.

4. What is an anxiety attack or a panic attack? Are they same as palpitations?

Palpitations are one of the symptoms of an anxiety attack. When anxiety reaches a peak, adrenaline production is increased. When there is no way to use the high amount of adrenaline produced, symptoms set in. They are heart racing, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, chest pain, sweating, giddiness, etc. They may even resemble a heart attack. Feelings of threat, fear and despair are present at this time. Upsetting life situations and depressions can lead to a panic attack. It can sometimes happen for no reason. Repeating attacks can lead to health problems. To deal with this problem, you may need to talk about your problems to a family member, friends or a counselor. Simple breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques may help you get an anxiety attack under control. Palpitations usually resolve once your anxiety is under control.

5. Can palpitations occur during pregnancy?

During pregnancy there are a lot of hormonal changes and shifts in the fluid volume. Increase in blood volume can cause a stress on the heart. Progesterone can increase the stroke volume, which is the volume of blood pumped from the heart with every beat. Occasional irregular heart beat; likely premature ventricular contractions are common. These do not affect the pregnancy or cause trouble during labor. Dehydration can also cause rapid heartbeats. There is a forward and upward shift of heart towards the chest wall due to gravid uterus. The heart being near to the chest wall causes unpleasant heart beat awareness. At times, pregnancy can reveal undiagnosed underlying cardiac problems. Patients should be tested to rule out the other causes of palpitations if their symptoms are persistent.

6. Which specialist doctor should manage my condition I have palpitation or arrhythmia?

You should see a Cardiologist.

7. What are the risks of having heart palpitations?

Palpitations do not usually damage the heart when it happens rarely. But certain fast heart beat for a very long time can cause some complications. It is important to diagnose the cause of your palpitations. While some arrhythmias are harmless, certain arrhythmias can lead to enlargement of the heart, stroke or even cause sudden death. These complications are rare and can be prevented if the diagnosis is made in time and treated promptly and correctly

8. What drugs or food substances affect palpitations?

Caffeinated beverages such as cocoa, coffee, tea, pepsi or coke are one of the common causes of palpitations. Too much alcohol also leads to fast heartbeat. Reducing the intake usually helps with the symptoms. Some cold medicines and decongestants are known to cause palpitations in high doses. Other examples of medication overdose are thyroid hormone replacements and certain antidepressants.

9. What is a holiday heart syndrome?

Heart palpitations or arrhythmias that occurs typically after a holiday following excessive alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol during holidays not only leads to an increase in road accidents and people’s waist line, it can also make your heart skip or run. Sometimes they have shortness of breath, chest pain or even faint. This syndrome is not life threatening, but people must realize that heavy drinking over a period of time can lead to irreversible heart damage. There are no concrete theories on how alcohol affects the heart. It is believed that it is related to the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine and increase in the fatty acids in blood. When alcohol is metabloised, acetaldehyde is released that can cause a delay in the heart’s conduction system. These patients are usually over 30years of age and have no history of heart disease. They do not have to be a chronic alcoholic either. The symptoms are transient. The heart reverts back to normal rhythm spontaneously if the patient abstains from alcohol. Sometimes antiarrhythmic drugs are required and rarely cardioversion to get the heart back into rhythm. Supraventricular tachycardia is the most commonly associated form of arrhythmia with the holiday heart. Atrial fibrillation is also widely associated with alcohol. In studies done in the US, 35% of new onset atrial fibrillation cases are related to alcohol abuse.

10. What is an anxiety attack or a panic attack? Are they same as palpitations?

Palpitations are one of the symptoms of an anxiety attack. When anxiety reaches a peak, adrenaline production is increased. When there is no way to use the high amount of adrenaline produced, symptoms set in. They are heart racing, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, chest pain, sweating, giddiness, etc. They may even resemble a heart attack. Feelings of threat, fear and despair are present at this time. Upsetting life situations and depressions can lead to a panic attack. It can sometimes happen for no reason. Repeating attacks can lead to health problems. To deal with this problem, you may need to talk about your problems to a family member, friends or a counselor. Simple breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques may help you get an anxiety attack under control. Palpitations usually resolve once your anxiety is under control.

11. Can palpitations occur during pregnancy?

During pregnancy there are a lot of hormonal changes and shifts in the fluid volume. Increase in blood volume can cause a stress on the heart. Progesterone can increase the stroke volume, which is the volume of blood pumped from the heart with every beat. Occasional irregular heart beat; likely premature ventricular contractions are common. These do not affect the pregnancy or cause trouble during labor. Dehydration can also cause rapid heartbeats. There is a forward and upward shift of heart towards the chest wall due to gravid uterus. The heart being near to the chest wall causes unpleasant heart beat awareness. At times, pregnancy can reveal undiagnosed underlying cardiac problems. Patients should be tested to rule out the other causes of palpitations if their symptoms are persistent.






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