What could cause a sudden, fast and irregular heartbeat?Cardiology Health & Fitness Sport Medicine
On 2 occasions, a change in emotional state (eg. anxious, stressed, a lot of things on mind) has caused me to experience a sudden, irregular and fast heartbeat. In the most recent episode, I experienced blood being drained from my head, faintness and a temporary loss of vision.
In medical terminology, an irregular heart beat is called an arrythmia (ie, abnormal heart rhythm).
Heart rhythm abnormalities occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats cause your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.
Your doctor can detect an irregular heartbeat during an examination by taking your pulse, listening to your heart, or by performing diagnostic tests such as an ECG.
An arrhythmia may not cause any symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include:
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Chest discomfort
This is because your heart pumps blood that supplies oxygen to your brain, and if the heart rhythm goes haywire briefly, the blood and oxygen supply could be affected.
There are many harmless causes of abnormal heart rhythms, which include:
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Strenuous physical activity
If you have associated symptoms such as feeling lightheaded or short of breath, it's worthwhile going to see your doctor.
This is because he may sometimes uncover other easily treatable or more dangerous causes of abnormal heart rhythms.
Thanks for your question. There are many different reasons why artthymias are triggered off and in your case it sounds like a stress/emotion related incident. While it would seen easy enough to put it down to this, its a little worrying if you have become compromised i.e. feinted and collapsed. In sports situations, we also worry about this turn of events, particularly if it a regular problem, is associated with chest pain, dizziness and light headedness, and if there is a family history. Causes for the collapse could be a structural change in heart, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a rhythm abnormality such as brugada or wolf-parkinson white syndrome. These are only a couple and there are many other possibilities.
It would be useful if you could visit a physician for an initial clinical history/examination, followed by investigations including an ECG, echocardiogram, treadmill test or even a cardiac MRI. In some situations you might require 24 hour monitoring and blood tests for stress hormone responses.
As you can see there is no simple answer to your symptoms, other than please get it checked out!
I hope this helps.