5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Heart Palpitations Checked

You can only hear your own heartbeat when you focus intently. However, have you ever experienced a period of intense heartbeats propagating at irregular rhythms?

Heart palpitations can come in many forms. This may include: 

  • Fluttering
  • Throbbing
  • Flip-flopping
  • Murmuring
  • Pounding

 [1]

In general, most heart palpitations are caused by reasons such as physical exertion, mental stimulation, or the consumption of certain foods. Hence your palpitations may indicate a need to change your lifestyle habits. 

In rare cases, persistent heart palpitation can suggest an underlying medical condition. In these cases, finding a doctor or cardiologist and getting to the bottom of the matter would be necessary. 

Regardless, it’s always better to be safe than sorry! 

In this article, we will explore 5 reasons why you should get your heart palpitation checked.

 

1. Your Heart Palpitations Could Indicate an Unhealthy Diet

The food and beverages you consume daily may be the reason for your heart palpitation.

If you suspect that your diet might be the cause of your palpitations, keep a food diary to observe the trends and visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Spicy Foods

A little too much of mala or sambal belacan in your meal may be causing your heartburn. This can sometimes lead to heart palpitations. [2]

Too Much Caffeine or Alcohol

Caffeine is a stimulant and excessive amounts of it can lead to heart palpitations. Try decaf sometimes. [3] Likewise, drinking too much alcohol can cause palpitations.[4] Try limiting your drinking to 2 glasses of alcohol, no more than 4 times a week.

Salty Foods

Salty foods such as canned or processed foods have a high sodium content. [5] Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates have a lot of sodium as well. [6] The heightened level of sodium in the bloodstream can lead to palpitations. Moderating your sodium intake is very important to avoid this. 

alcohol and unhealthy food 

2. Your Workout Could Be Causing Your Heart Palpitations

It is not surprising that your heart rate increases when you exercise. Adrenaline levels increase to encourage more blood flow to your muscles including your heart. This may sometimes cause heart palpitations in the process. 

In the event that your post-exercise heart palpitations seem to feel severe, it would be wise to take it slower. It may indicate an underlying medical condition that you would want to seek a doctor for.

 

3. Your Mental Health May be at Stake

Your emotional and mental state may be the root cause of your palpitations. How you think and feel in a moment can lead to various changes in your body, depending on its intensity. 

Though most emotional sources of heart palpitations can be dealt with by avoiding the trigger, it is always better to enlist the help of a professional. 

Stress

Your heart palpitations may indicate that you are overly stressed. Stress can come in many forms and it affects different people at varying intensities. Your body perceives a threat and engages your “fight or flight” response. In this scenario, heart palpitations can arise as a bodily reaction. 

stressed woman and man

Panic Attacks

Similar to stressful events, panic attacks can engage your body’s mechanisms and cause heart palpitations. Your heart rate should go back to normal as your panic attack subsides.

Depression

Of the many cases of heart palpitations not related to heart disease, psychiatric disorders have shown to be a common cause. Depression is one of these problems. [7]

Your mental health is equally important and has to be well tended to. If heart palpitations persist, you should seek a professional for medical assistance. 

If you are suffering from depression, here's a list of resources to help you get through this trying time.

 

4. Your Heart Palpitations May Indicate an Underlying Heart Disease

It is possible that your heart palpitations indicate that you are suffering from a heart-related medical condition, or cardiovascular diseases. This is especially so if they seem to be occurring frequently. In these situations, seeking your doctor’s help should be your number one priority.

In addition to your heart palpitations, If you are experiencing these accompanying symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sweating

It is advisable that you seek immediate medical attention.

Below are some of the medical conditions causing heart palpitations.

Heart Attack

Without a doubt, a heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Most heart attacks occur due to a blockage of blood flow to the heart.

Heart palpitation is one of the many possible symptoms leading up to a heart attack. If accompanied by any of the symptoms mentioned in the list above, it is highly possible that it is a heart attack. It is crucial to get immediate medical assistance in this case. 

Heart Failure

Heart palpitations can be a symptom of a potential heart failure event. Parts of the heart may have lost some or all its functions, rendering a need to increase its pumping rate to ensure that blood is pumped to the body.

This may manifest as irregular heart palpitations and it is usually accompanied by many other telltale symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue. [8] Enlisting the help of a doctor quickly will be very important when this happens. 

Arrhythmia 

While heart palpitation is usually a transient event, if persistent, it can point to heart arrhythmia. This is a condition where your heart has a consistent, irregular rhythm. [9]

If left untreated, Arrhythmia can lead to a cardiac arrest or stroke. Make sure to take it up to your doctor. 

 

5. You May Have an Underlying Medical Condition 

Heart palpitations can be a sign that you have an underlying medical condition. This section pertains to medical conditions that do not pertain to the heart. Unlike heart conditions, these disorders do not necessarily require immediate medical care but it should not be ignored. 

Thyroid Disorder

Your thyroid gland is located in the low part of the front of your neck. The heart is amongst the many important organs your thyroid hormones can influence.

Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition when your thyroid gland secretes too much thyroid hormones. The hormones are able to affect heart activity which can possibly lead to heart palpitations if in excess. [10]

 

In Conclusion

There are so many different sources that can cause heart palpitations. While most are minor and not a huge cause for concern, some can be potentially life-threatening, especially the ones pertaining to heart disorders. 

If you experience heart palpitations constantly, find a doctor as soon as possible to help identify and treat the cause.

To learn about heart palpitations in full, jump over to cardiologist Dr Ang Teck Kee’s Ultimate Guide to Heart Palpitations in Singapore

 


Check out what Dr Ang's patients are saying about him!


 

1. Heart palpitations - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-palpitations/symptoms-causes/syc-20373196. Published 2020. Accessed July 19, 2020.

2. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://www.pbmchealth.org/news-events/blog/why-your-heart-pounds-fast-after-eating

3. Heart palpitations: Frequently asked questions. (2019, July 24). Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://uihc.org/health-topics/heart-palpitations-frequently-asked-questions

4. Larsson, S. C., Drca, N., & Wolk, A. (2014). Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation: a prospective study and dose-response meta-analysis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(3), 281-289.

5. Pietrangelo, A. (2019, December 02). Understanding Heart Palpitations After Eating. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/heart-palpitations-after-eating

6. Beckerman, J. (2019, July 17). Heart Palpitations: Causes, Treatments, After Eating, Lying Down. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/what-causes-heart-palpitations

7. Alijaniha, F., Noorbala, A., Afsharypuor, S., Naseri, M., Fallahi, F., Mosaddegh, M., Faghih Zadeh, S., & Sadrai, S. (2016). Relationship Between Palpitation and Mental Health. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal, 18(3), e22615. https://doi.org/10.5812/ircmj.22615

8. Heart Failure Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/heart-failure/symptoms

9. Arrhythmia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/arrhythmia

This article was written by Dr Ang Teck Kee and published on Tuesday, 22 September 2020. Dr Ang Teck Kee medically reviewed the article on Tuesday, 22 September 2020. The last update was made on Thursday, 5 November 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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