Although heart palpitations are often harmless, they can feel frightening, and in some cases, they’re a sign of an underlying heart condition. Feeling the occasional fluttering of your heart usually isn’t a cause for concern, and it may feel as if your heart skips a beat or has a noticeable change in rhythm.
While heart palpitations can have many harmless causes, it’s wise to know when to alert a health care provider, and a heart specialist can get to the bottom of your symptoms. At Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants, board-certified cardiologist Ayim Djamson, MD, diagnoses and treats conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels.
If you’re experiencing a sensation that your heart is skipping a beat, Dr. Djamson can get to the root of the problem, and provide answers and treatment if necessary. Take a moment to learn more about heart palpitations and what to do if it feels like your heart skips a beat.
Understanding heart palpitations
Everyone is familiar with the typical rhythm of their heartbeat. Palpitations are different from your regular heartbeat. It may feel as if your heart is beating too fast, too strongly, or is fluttering. Some people describe feeling their heart-pounding inside their chest or skipping a beat. Sometimes it may feel like there’s an extra beat.
In most cases, heart palpitations last only a few seconds and resolve on their own. There are some cases where heart palpitations are a warning sign of a serious underlying heart condition. Palpitations can be a symptom of:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Heart valve dysfunction
- Congenital heart defects
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Dr. Djamson routinely diagnoses and treats these conditions.
Causes of heart palpitations
The causes of palpitations vary widely. Non-serious causes of heart palpitations include strong emotions such as:
Underlying health conditions can impact heart rhythm. These are:
- Low blood sugar
- Hormonal changes
In these cases, heart palpitations should resolve following treatment of the underlying condition. Over-the-counter and prescription medications and nutritional supplements can also cause heart palpitations.
When heart palpitations require immediate medical attention
Certain symptoms are serious enough to require immediate medical attention. If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition and experience sudden palpitations, get immediate medical help. Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention whether you have a heart condition or not are:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Pain in your arms
- Excessive sweating
- Pain in your neck or upper back
Note that if your resting pulse is more than 100 beats per minute, get help right away. Any of these symptoms could be signs of a serious cardiac event.
Practical steps for non-serious heart palpitations
Heart palpitations that are brief and resolve on their own aren’t usually a cause for concern. If you’ve had a comprehensive evaluation of your heart and been told that it’s functioning fine, your palpitations may be related to less serious causes.
Avoiding the underlying trigger can keep palpitations at bay. Dr. Djamson can help you determine the cause of your palpitations. Smoking, caffeine intake, and chronic stress can contribute to heart palpitations.
Practicing deep breathing and other relaxation techniques may also help, especially if your palpitations are the result of stress or anxiety.
When it comes to your heart, it’s best not to take any chances. If you have unexplained heart palpitations, it’s wise to schedule a consultation with Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants. We have offices in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia, Maryland. Call the office nearest you or request an appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Djamson and the team here on our website.