Heart palpitations are surprisingly common. Anytime you feel like your heart is fluttering or pounding, or like it skipped a beat, you’re experiencing heart palpitations. Most of the time, it’s nothing to be worried about, but in some instances it could indicate a need to see a doctor.
At Heart & Vascular Institute, our experts treat a wide variety of cardiovascular issues, including heart palpitations and arrhythmias. Although heart palpitations can be scary, they’re usually a normal response and nothing to be terribly concerned about.
In this post we look at common causes of heart palpitations, as well as some of the indicators that may indicate a more serious issue.
When not to worry
If you’ve been exercising, and your heart is pounding, you’re experiencing heart palpitations. Or maybe you’ve been in a highly emotional situation and felt as if your heart was flip-flopping. That feeling was heart palpitations. Common causes include:
- Strong emotions, like fear or anxiety
- Some medications
None of these are emergency situations. Other common causes may be emergencies, but not because of danger to your heart, such as:
- An overactive thyroid
- Low levels of sugar, potassium, or oxygen
- Low carbon dioxide in your blood
- Blood loss
- Recreational drugs like cocaine
Although some of these situations may require medical care, they aren’t usually dangerous.
When to seek medical care
Even though most cases of heart palpitations aren’t serious, some are. How can you tell the difference? If you experience other symptoms along with the heart palpitations, you may have a more serious health issue.
For example, if you have heart palpitations and you also feel dizzy, lightheaded, or confused, you may need immediate care. Certainly seek emergency care if you have heart palpitations accompanied by chest pain or pressure, if you have trouble breathing, or if you pass out.
If you’re not sure if your heart palpitations are problematic, start keeping track of them. Note when they happen, how long they last, how you feel, and what you’re doing when they start. Our providers may be able to use that information to understand what’s happening and why.
Preventing heart palpitations
Depending on the cause of your heart palpitations, there are steps you can take to try to ease them if they’re not due to a more serious health problem. In that case, our providers can develop a treatment plan that may help stop your palpitations.
On your own, though, you may find that reducing your overall stress levels through relaxation exercises such as deep breathing may help. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake are also good steps that may reduce how often you experience heart palpitations.
If you have questions about heart palpitations or you’re not sure if they’re cause for concern, schedule an appointment at Heart & Vascular Institute, with locations in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan. We’re happy to help!