What You Need to Know about Heart Palpitations

What You Need to Know about Heart Palpitations

Love songs celebrate romantic moments when your heart skips a beat. In reality, the experience can be more disturbing.

Heart palpitations may involve a number of different sensations, like fluttering, pounding, and racing. They’re common and have many causes, which are usually harmless.

However, a few require medical attention, and they can make you feel uneasy even when your heart is healthy.

You may not be able to prevent irregularities completely, but you can often reduce heart palpitations. Find out more about lifestyle changes and medical care that can help keep your heart beating steady.

Lifestyle Changes that Can Reduce Heart Palpitations:

  1. Manage stress. Palpitations often involve psychological factors from daily pressures to chronic anxiety disorders. Learn relaxation practices that work for you and consider counseling if panic attacks or other symptoms are disrupting your life.
  2. Limit stimulants. Coffee is safe for most adults, but you may be more sensitive. Cut back or switch to decaf and herbal tea to see if it makes a difference.
  3. Drink responsibly. Alcohol can be another trigger. Restrict yourself to one drink a day for women and two for men or try giving up cocktails for a month.
  4. Stay hydrated. Your heart needs to work harder when you don’t drink enough water. Consuming liquids and foods high in water content help to thin your blood.
  5. Quit smoking. Tobacco affects your heart and other organs, as well as your lungs. Smoking makes your heart beat faster. It’s also a leading cause of many cardiovascular conditions.
  6. Sleep well. Your body and mind work at repairing themselves while you’re slumbering overnight. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep has many benefits, including a healthier heart.
  7. Adjust your workouts. Keep going to the gym but watch out for overtraining. High intensity activities can pose heart risks if you push yourself too hard. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about what’s safe for you.
  8. Use self-help techniques. If you still experience palpitations, there are some techniques that can provide temporary relief. Breathe deeply or splash cold water on your face. Practice the Valsalva maneuver. That’s when you close your mouth and try to exhale through your nostrils while you hold them shut.

Medical Care for Heart Palpitations:

  1. Seek urgent care. Know when to call 911 or go to an emergency room. Your palpitations need immediate attention if you have certain other symptoms. That includes shortness of breath, dizziness, blackouts, and pain or tightness in your chest.
  2. Wear a monitor. To rule out serious conditions, your doctor may perform stress tests, electrocardiograms, and other procedures. However, diagnosis can be difficult if you have no palpitations during your visit. You may be asked to wear a Holter monitor or an implantable recorder to track irregular heart rhythms.
  3. Check medications. Are you taking decongestants or diet pills? Many over the counter and prescription drugs can affect your heart rate. Ask your doctor if adjustments are needed.
  4. Treat heart conditions. Palpitations are sometimes linked to a variety of heart issues. The most common is atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia that increases your risk for blood clots and stroke. It sometimes goes away on its own, but prompt care could help you lead a longer and more active life.
  5. Spot other conditions. Heart palpitations can also be caused by issues in other parts of your body. For example, you may have diabetes or an overactive thyroid.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about heart palpitations. That’s especially important if they occur frequently, last for more than a few seconds, or are accompanied by other troubling symptoms.

Otherwise, a few simple lifestyle changes may help you keep your heartbeat more regular.

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