Palpitations are sensations of an erratic heartbeat. It is often defined as a racing, pounding or fluttering feeling in the chest. In most cases, it might be an indication of a heart condition, but it is usually harmless and not associated to any underlying issue.
What are the causes?
- Stress or anxiety
- Excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Recreational drug use
- Medications including asthma, thyroid and decongestant medications
- Strenuous physical activity
Some of the usual conditions that can trigger palpitations include the following:
- Thyroid disease
- Adrenal gland tumor
- Lung and heart diseases
What must I do?
If an individual starts to experience palpitations, he/she should not worry. Remember that palpitations are quite common and not usually due to a serious health condition.
In case they occur regularly, has a family history of heart conditions or simply worried, a doctor must be consulted as soon as possible. The doctor will decide if further testing is required based on the symptoms and medical history, usually an ECG. Depending on the results of the ECG, the doctor might refer the individual or reassure that there are no underlying issues.
Management of palpitations
When managing palpitations, it usually depends on the outcome of the tests such has the ECG and treatment of any linked issues. If there are no conditions present, lifestyle factors must be dealt with to determine if they might be the contributing cause.