Saturday, 6th June 2020

This Month's Magazine
A Fluttering Heart

A Fluttering Heart

Palpitations donÂ’t always indicate a cardiac condition. By Dr. R. Bravo Prats

It can happen that suddenly one experiences a fluttering heart, palpitations that are often described as sensations of a rapidly or irregularly beating heart.

Some describe the experience as “skipping a beat” or a “jumping around your chest” kind of feeling. While many have these sensations from time to time with little more than an occasional feeling of a “racing heart,” others get significant symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or even a feeling they are about to pass out.

Of course at this point it is essential to seek medical attention, but once your physician has ruled out cardiac concerns (mitral valve prolapse, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems and others, especially if you lead a healthy life, one has to look at other concerns that may be causing such palpitations. Lifting weights, anxiety or even lack of sleep could be the simplest answer. However there are additional concerns that may cause these symptoms. These include but arenÂ’t limited to:

  • Anaemia
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Low magnesium or potassium
  • Infection or fever
  • Premenstrual syndrome or hormone changesassociated with menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Medications including decongestants, certain antidepressants, and stimulants found in some energy and weight loss products. Finding the cause for palpitations requires some detective work and, to rule out a cardiac cause your doctor may require tests like
  • EKG
  • Blood tests (for anaemia, thyroid disorders, others)
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound picture of your heart and itsÂ’ valves)
  • Holter monitor (checks for irregular heartbeats and heart rate over one or everal days)
  • Exercise stress test.


If the work-up suggests a cardiac concern, further tests would be ordered. These include an electrophysiological study (EPS) (check the electrical system of your heart), tilt table test (if you had fainting spells along with your palpitations) and potentially, a cardiac catheterization.

While palpitations can be worrisome and disturbing, they are often no more than a temporary and harmless sensation. However, it is also important to know that palpitations may occasionally signal a more serious medical condition, one that deserves a full and thorough medical evaluation. When (and if) reasons for the palpitations are found, treatment is targeted toward reducing the risks, treating the symptoms or correcting the cause.

If you are concerned or have questions with regards to your health by all means write in to in confidence and Dr Prats will reply to you direct.

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