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Palpitations

What is it?

A palpitation (pall-pih-ta-shun) is a pounding or racing feeling in your heart. You may feel that your heartbeat is not normal. You may feel a "flip-flopping" sensation or a flutter in your chest. Palpitations may be upsetting but are usually not a serious problem.

Causes:

Anxiety (ang-zi-ih-t), not enough sleep, some medicine, or caffeine may cause palpitations. Nicotine in cigarettes or exercising too hard may be other causes. Heart disease, thyroid problems, or other diseases may also cause this problem.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may feel like your heart is "skipping beats," "fluttering in your chest," or "racing." Or you may feel like your heart is jumping or throbbing in your chest. Palpitations may be serious if you feel dizzy, light-headed, short of breath, or faint (pass out).

Wellness Recommendations:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Do not drink liquids that contain caffeine.
  • Rest and learn to control your stress.

Medical Care:

Your physician will listen to your heart. Blood and heart tests may be done. You may need to change medicines if your medicine is causing the palpitations. Sometimes medicine may be used to prevent palpitations.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture may help palpitations.
      • Biofeedback may help palpitations.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat palpitations.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • Your palpitations are happening more often.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

      SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

      • You have chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back. You should see your caregiver if you are sweating, sick to your stomach (nauseated), or are having trouble breathing. These are signs of a heart attack. This is an emergency! Call 911 or 0 (operator) to get to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!
      • You are too dizzy to stand up.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

      References:

      1. Bleecker ER & Engel BT: Learned control of cardiac rate and cardiac conduction in the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. N Engl J Med 1973; 288(11):560-562.

      2. Xia Y, Guo XQ, Zhang AZ et al: Inhibitory effect of analogous electro-acupuncture on experimental arrhythmia. Acupunct Electrother Res 1985; 10(1-2):13-34.


      Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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