Sometimes your heart skips a beat, and it’s not because you’re in love. Should you be concerned about heart palpitations that suddenly occur out of nowhere?
There are many reasons your heart may skip a beat, or palpitate, and not all of them are serious. At Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue in East Harlem, New York, Dr. Henock Saint-Jaques and the exceptional team of cardiologists explain what heart palpitations are and what to do when your heart skips a beat.
Racing, pounding, and fluttering
Heart palpitations feel different than your regular heartbeat. You might feel a sensation that your heart is racing, pounding harder inside your chest, or fluttering irregularly. Sometimes palpitations feel like your heart skips a beat and other times it feels like there’s an extra beat.
In most cases, these types of heart palpitations aren’t cause for alarm, last only a few seconds, and usually resolve on their own. However, there are cases in which heart palpitations indicate a more serious condition. For example, an irregular heartbeat may mean you have a defective valve in your heart or heart disease.
Causes of heart palpitations
Like the palpitations themselves, their causes vary. You might feel your heart racing after you exercise strenuously or consume too much caffeine. Smoking, dehydration, and anxiety can also cause a temporary irregular heartbeat.
Other causes of palpitations include:
- Fear and panic
- Low blood sugar
- Thyroid problems
- Hormonal changes
Over-the-counter and prescription medications and nutritional supplements can also make your heart skip a beat. So, how do you know when you need medical treatment or when heart palpitations are nothing to worry about?
Seek immediate medical attention under these circumstances
If you have a diagnosed heart condition and you have heart palpitations, seek immediate medical attention. Also, if you have palpitations with any of the following symptoms, dial 911:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Loss of consciousness
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Pain in your neck or upper back
- Pain in your jaw
- Pain in your arms
And, 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 condition.
When you don’t need treatment, here’s what to do
As long as you don’t have other symptoms or you’ve recently been to your cardiologist and your heart palpitations aren’t cause for concern, you can still take steps to relieve them and prevent them from frequently occurring. Once you understand your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them, such as cutting back on caffeine or quitting smoking.
Practicing deep breathing and other relaxation techniques may also help, especially if your palpitations are the result of stress or anxiety. Keeping your electrolytes balanced may help reduce heart palpitations. You can boost electrolytes in your body by eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Stay hydrated and get regular exercise to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce stress. Lifestyle changes can go a long way in keeping your heart healthy and palpitations to a minimum.
When it comes to your heart, it’s best not to take a chance. If you have unexplained heart palpitations, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation with one of our expert cardiologists at Harlem Cardiology.
Give us a call at 646-381-2181, or request an appointment online.