What are palpitations ?
Heartbeat palpitations occur when the heart beats faster than usual. Individuals who experience this often describe it as irregular and rapid beating of the heart. Some also claim that the heart seems to skip beating or seem to be fluttering. They can also feel these palpitations in the chest and neck. Some people experience it during night time while others notice it after eating. Heart palpitations are also fairly common during pregnancy.
Heartbeat palpitations are often a cause of concern for most people. It may sometimes indicate a serious heart problem, but most cases of heart palpitations are harmless. Even so, a person who often experiences heart palpitations should still opt to visit the doctor to have it checked, rule out serious medical problems and determine the most appropriate and effective remedy.
Cause of Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations occur when the heart beats faster than normal, that is, over 100 beats /minute. The heart normally makes 60 to 100 beats per minute. Palpitations are due to the disruption of the electrical activity of the heart, which forces it to beat either too fast or too slow. These become more evident when the organ contracts forcefully. The known main cause of rapid heart palpitation is abnormal heart rhythm or medically termed as arrhythmia.
There are several factors that can trigger arrhythmia, and these are:
- Diet pills
- Heart valve disorder
- Overactive thyroid
- Low blood oxygen levels
- Medications for hypertension, thyroid disorder and asthma
Occurrence of Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations can be felt anytime of the day and under different conditions. Some people complain about it after taking their meals, while others suffer heart palpitations at night. Many expecting women also complain of heart palpitations at some point in their pregnancy.
People who experience heart palpitations after eating might be suffering from some kind of food sensitivity. Some reportedly feel rapid heartbeats after taking in fat-rich or carbohydrate-rich foods, while others feel it after consuming a high-sodium or high-MSG diet. In addition, some individuals reportedly experience heart palpitations when their minds are loaded with distressing thoughts. Meanwhile, pregnant women who feel their heart palpitate really fast also experience other unpleasant symptoms like lethargy, constipation, headache, gas and dizziness.
But what causes the heart to beat really fast after eating, at night or during pregnancy?
Heart Palpitations after eating
Heartbeat palpitations after eating could be due to:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Hiatal hernia
- Severe iron deficiency
- Sudden food binging after long periods of hunger
Heart Palpitations at night
The heart could likewise palpitate at night because of:
- Too much caffeine
- Hormonal changes
- Cough, cold, asthma or hypertension medications
- Strenuous exercise before sleeping
- Consuming alcohol
- Blood pressure or heart problems
- Heavy dinner
- High blood cholesterol
- Diet pills
Heart Palpitations during pregnancy
On the other hand, heartbeat palpitations during pregnancy could be a result of:
- Too much caffeine
- Bodily changes
- Mental and physical stress
- Adverse effects of medicines
- Low level of magnesium
Diagnosis of Heart Palpitations
People who suffer from heart palpitations should never delay visiting the doctor, regardless of the mildness or severity of the palpitations. Consultation with the doctor is highly needed especially if the patient feels dizziness and tightening of the chest that come with the rapid beating of the heart. In some cases, one may be required to see a cardiologist for further assessment.
Diagnosing the underlying cause of heart palpitations may involve the following:
- ECG or electrocardiogram
This is often done to detect abnormal heart rhythm by recording the electrical signals emitted by the heart.
- Cardiac monitoring
This is to record electrical signals made by the heart and detect abnormal heart rhythm should ECG fail to detect it. One device used in cardiac monitoring is the Holter monitor which continuously records the electrical signals made by the heart within 24 or 48 hours. A handheld event recorder is likewise sometimes used. Both devices have to worn on the chest.
This test works like an ultrasound of the heart to allow the doctors to examine the structure of the heart and determine if it is functioning properly or not.
Heart Palpitations treatment
Doctors plan the treatment based on the underlying cause of heartbeat palpitations. For those who experience heart palpitations after eating, treatment may involve avoiding starvation and taking adequate but regular meals every day; proper stress management and regular exercise to avoid obesity and promote optimum body functioning.
If the heart palpitations appear at night, sufferers should avoid taking caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as well as certain medications. They would do well if they also engage in healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly. Treatment for heart palpitations during pregnancy may involve boosting one’s intake of Vitamin C, iron and magnesium. Sufferers will also benefit from engaging in appropriate pregnancy exercises.