February 01, 2014

Palpitations

The heart of the problem

Palpitations

It happens infrequently — a sort of flip-flopping sensation in your chest, as if your heart just skipped a beat. It's an odd feeling that makes you wonder if something is wrong.

Heart palpitations are the sensation of the beating of your own heart. This can occur with normal heart rhythm, such as the heart beating rapidly after strenuous exercise. Alternatively, it may occur due to an abnormal rhythm of the heart. Palpitations are extremely common and often harmless. However, that feeling of a skip, bump or flip in the heart — or heartbeats that are too hard or too fast — can be unnerving.

In some instances, palpitations may indicate the presence of an underlying condition, such as a heart rate or rhythm problem (arrhythmia) that may or may not be life-threatening. Although palpitations may not occur with a more­serious arrhythmia, it's important to recognize signs and symptoms that may be related to reduced blood output from your heart. These include shortness of breath or wheezing, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting, and chest pain or discomfort. Seek emergency care if you suddenly or frequently experience any of these.

From harmless to concerning

Some people with a normal heart may experience an increased awareness of their heart beating. However, most people don't notice as their heart pumps at its normal rate and rhythm. If palpitations are noticed, what's being felt is the subjective feeling of the heartbeat. Palpitations may be felt in your chest, throat or neck....