They are usually harmless. They can be a symptom of a more serious heart condition, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia
) that may require treatment.
Since you have frequent palpitations, you should see to your doctor to see if you need heart-monitoring tests to see if your palpitations are caused by a more serious heart problem. This evaluation could be urgently needed if your palpitations are accompanied by chest pain
, shortness of breath, fainting or dizziness.
Palpitations can be caused by stress or anxiety
, exercise, fever, caffeine, nicotine, or stimulants in some medications. Occasionally heart palpitations
are a sign of a serious problem, such as an overactive thyroid gland or an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias can be very fast, unusually slow, an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation can be a sign of underlying heart disease, such as mitral valve disease or other conditions that can cause stretching of the atria â€” the upper chambers of the heart. A cardiologistâ€™s evaluation and an echocardiogram
are often useful in ruling out some structural disease affecting your heart. If there is no structural heart disease, then the principal risk of atrial fibrillation is that blood clots may form in areas of the heart that are not contracting and possibly travel through the bloodstream to cause a stroke. This risk of a stroke is increased if you are over 65 years old; if you have high blood pressure
; if you are female; if you have had a prior stroke, transient ischemic attack (or TIA â€” a fleeting stroke), or other blood clot
disorder; if you have diabetes; if you have heart failure
; or if you have known vascular disease
(heart attack, aneurysm, or limitation of blood flow to the legs). The more risk factors you have the higher your risk of a stroke. With one risk factor, many physicians will recommend Aspirin therapy, or sometimes more potent blood thinners. With two or more risk factors, blood thinners are usually recommended. This should be discussed in detail with your doctor.
Unless your palpitations signify of an underlying heart condition, there's little risk, but if there is an underlying heart condition, possible complications include fainting, stroke, heart failure, or it can cause your heart to stop beating effectively.