Does your heart unexpectedly start to race or pound, or feel like it keeps skipping beats? These sensations are called heart palpitations. For most people, heart palpitations are a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. Others have dozens of these heart flutters a day, sometimes so strong that they feel like a heart attack. Most palpitations are caused by a harmless hiccup in the heart's rhythm. A few reflect a problem in the heart or elsewhere in the body.
This Is When You Should Actually Worry About Heart Palpitations
Premature Atrial Complexes (PACs) Causes and Treatment
Palpitations are defined as the abnormal awareness of one's own heartbeat. It is a common complaint seen in the outpatient setting in virtually all age groups and demographics. Most palpitations are due to non-arrhythmic aetiologies that occur during normal sinus rhythm. A significant proportion of palpitations are due to non-life-threatening, treatable cardiac conditions. They include premature ventricular contractions, premature atrial contractions, and supraventricular tachycardias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, atrioventricular nodal re-entry tachycardia, atrial tachycardia, and atrioventricular re-entry tachycardia or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Ironically, the most common rhythm seen when evaluating patients for palpitations is sinus rhythm. A heightened sense of normal rhythm can be seen in settings of emotional or physical stress, or in conjunction with use of caffeine, alcohol, or other stimulants.
There you are, minding your own business, when suddenly — out of nowhere — your heart starts racing. It feels like it's beating out of your chest. You're worried you may have a heart attack, and you feel a rising sense of panic, not knowing what to do next.
Andrea Tordini, MD. Believing that something could be wrong with your heart is a scary feeling. Heart palpitations can make you fear the worst, but palpitations are actually quite common and usually nothing to worry about. Rarely, they could be a sign of a more serious condition like AFib. Knowing when to worry about heart palpitations can help you catch certain conditions early so that you can seek treatment.