Common Causes of Heart Palpitations
Have you ever felt like your heart is pounding, beating too fast, fluttering, skipping a beat, or otherwise beating irregularly? If so, you’ve likely experienced heart palpitations. While heart palpitations are relatively common and usually a result of alcohol, strong emotions, physical activity, or caffeine, they may also be a sign or symptom of a serious medical condition. Seek medical attention right away from the top cardiologist in Tampa, Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, right away if you experience frequent or worsening heart palpitations and have a history of heart disease. If your heart palpitations are accompanied by chest discomfort, dizziness, fainting, or shortness of breath, dial 911 for emergency medical attention.
Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF, is a common type of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat that may result in heart palpitations. This condition occurs when the two upper chambers of your heart aren’t able to work together as they should due to faulty electrical signaling. The cause of AFib isn’t always known; however, conditions such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease have been known to damage the heart and lead to this condition. Although AFib itself isn’t usually life-threatening, it does leave you vulnerable to the development of blood clots within your heart, potentially leading to stroke or heart failure.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a broad term used to describe a number of heart rhythm problems that originate above the ventricles (supraventricular) in the atria. SVT occurs when the signal to start your heartbeat doesn’t arrive from the sinoatrial node the way it should and instead arrives from another part of the atrium. The area outside of the node then begins to fire quickly, causing a rapid heartbeat of over 100 beats per minute. This abnormal rhythm may last from a few seconds to a few hours before your heart returns to its normal rhythm. Treatment options will vary depending on which subtype of SVT you have, which is why it’s important to contact a cardiologist in Tampa regarding the management of your SVT as soon as possible.
Premature Ventricular Contractions
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles) and disrupt your regular heart rhythm. The pattern is a normal beat, an extra beat (the PVC), a short pause, and then a stronger-than-normal beat. Individuals with frequent PVCs may experience a fluttering sensation in their neck or chest, weakness, dizziness, or fainting, depending on how the heart’s ability to pump blood has been affected. PVCs that occur more frequently or for longer periods of time are also more likely to be related to heart disease, high blood pressure, or heart failure.
Last, but certainly not the least worrisome, is myocardial ischemia — a condition in which the blood flow to your heart is reduced, and the heart muscle isn’t able to receive enough oxygen. This reduced blood flow is typically the result of a partial or complete blockage of your coronary arteries. Symptoms apart from heart palpitations include pain in the upper body, sweating, indigestion, lightheadedness, and nausea or vomiting. This condition typically occurs when your heart needs more oxygen than it is getting due to physical activity, stress, or cold temperatures. It can also be caused by coronary artery disease or coronary spasm.
Regardless of the cause, myocardial ischemia can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack and heart failure. Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle will not only help to treat many of the conditions covered in this article so far, but it can also help to prevent them by keeping your arteries strong, elastic, and capable of allowing for maximum blood flow. To learn more about how you can transform your life for the better, contact the top cardiologist in Tampa — Dr. Jesal Popat.
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