Depending on physical activity or mood changes, a person's heart may beat faster than usual. Heart palpitations can be a harbinger of a rhythm disorder in the heart called arrhythmia.
Symptoms of heart palpitations in healthy individuals can be observed as tachycardia, which develops with physical activity. In such cases, ECG impairment is not expected, except for an increase in heart rate. However, in some cases, if heart palpitations cause conditions such as shortness of breath, chest pain, chest tightness and burning, dizziness and fainting, urgent medical attention should be sought.
Apart from these, the risk of heart palpitations during pregnancy remains high compared to normal life. Increased intravascular fluid volume with changing hormone balances is shown as the cause of heart palpitations during pregnancy. In addition, hormonal changes that occur during menstrual and pre-menopausal periods can also cause sudden heart palpitations.
What Causes Heart Palpitations (Arrhythmia)?
The causes of heart palpitations can be divided into "non-cardiac causes" and "heart diseases". Non-cardiac causes are palpitations that are not a problem with the heart itself, but develop due to other factors.
o Excessive physical activity
o Anxiety and anxiety disorders
o Excessive bleeding
o Toxic goiter
o high fever
o Low blood sugar
o Use of alcohol or tobacco
o Caffeine consumption
o Some drugs
o Arteriovenous fistulas
o Abnormal electrolyte levels
o Excessive fluid loss
o Pheochromocytoma (adrenal gland tumor)
o Low oxygen
Among the causes of heart palpitations, factors depending on the heart can be due to many problems, from extra beat levels that do not require any treatment, to serious heart diseases that can be life-threatening. Among them, the following reasons are frequently observed:
o High blood pressure
o Cardiovascular diseases
o Heart muscle diseases
o Inflammation of the pericardium or heart muscle (myocarditis, pericarditis, endocarditis in palpitations)
o Cardiac rheumatism,
o Slowing of heart rate
o Heart valve replacement
o Congenital heart anomalies
o Enlargement of the aorta (aortic aneurysm)
o Rhythm disturbances (early atrial or ventricular beats, atrial fibrillation, ventricular
tachycardia, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, bundle branch blocks, Brugada and Wolff Parkinson-White Syndrome).
In addition to arrhythmia caused by a physical problem, psychological heart palpitations are among the most common problems. In anxiety situations, which are often called tension, the individual feels that something bad is going to happen. As the person thinks that he will face any threat, palpitations may be felt as more blood needs to go to the heart muscles. However, the extreme excitement felt by the individual is another factor that can cause heart palpitations.
How Does the Heart Palpitate (Arrhythmia) Pass?
Arrhythmia problems are very diverse. Some of them may be at a life-threatening level. For this reason, the question of how heart palpitations pass is a common point of curiosity for those who experience this problem. However, for treatment, the arrhythmia patient should be examined very carefully and, if any, the main cause of the arrhythmia should be revealed and the treatment process should be planned accordingly. When diagnosing heart palpitations (arrhythmia), the following examinations should be performed:
ECG: This is a heart X-ray taken by everyone who presents with a complaint of heart palpitations. However, the fact that the ECG is normal does not mean that the individual does not have a heart rhythm disorder. Because palpitations are often short-lived, an ECG taken instantaneously may show normal values. For this, the ECG must be taken at rest or during exertion.
Blood tests: Blood levels, thyroid hormones and electrolyte levels are checked.
Echocardiography: It is the examination of the heart with an ultrasound device. The condition of the heart valves, pumping functions and the working rate of the heart are checked to investigate the conditions that cause palpitations.
Holter: A device that records a person's heart rhythm in order to detect a number of rhythm disorders is called a holter. Usually, the heart rhythm is recorded for 24 hours to 72 hours. The interpretation of the record should be performed by the attending physician.
Event recorder: In people whose heart palpitations are very rare, using a holter may not be enough to make a diagnosis. Because palpitations may not develop during the specified time. In such cases, a device is installed in the person that is installed for 2-3 weeks and allows recording by pressing the button on the device at the time of palpitation. It is preferred for the diagnosis of palpitations seen at longer intervals.
Treatment of Heart Palpitations (Arrhythmia)
When treating heart palpitations, interventional treatment methods are used with drug therapy. In cases where successful results cannot be obtained with drug therapy, a method called "radiofrequency ablation" is resorted to. With this method, rhythm disturbance is treated with an interventional application from the leg artery or vein of the patient. The success rate of the method is up to 99% under the conditions of developing medicine. With radiofrequency ablation, it is aimed to eliminate the focus or mechanism that causes palpitations with radiofrequency energy.
Some rhythm disturbances disappear after being treated with ablation and do not recur again. However, some of them may not respond to radical treatments. In such arrhythmia problems, it may be necessary to take medication for years or for a lifetime.
Some cases of arrhythmia, on the other hand, are treated with pacemakers (pacemakers). Usually, pacemakers are used in the treatment of cases of "bradyarrhythmia"-that is, rhythm disturbances in which the heart works slowly, in other words, in cases of excessive slowing of the heart rhythm or the development of heart block. The person who has a pacemaker installed needs to be kept under constant control.
Some tachyarrhythmias, such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, may not respond to drug therapy and radiofrequency ablation. In such patients, a "cardiac defiblirator" is used, which resembles pacemakers. These devices, which are similar to pacemakers but normalize the situation by delivering shock energy in life-threatening rhythm situations, are life-saving.
How Long Does the Heart Palpitations Last?
Heart palpitations are usually caused by stress, exercise, colds, panic attacks, or side effects of certain medications, such as the heart beating faster than usual. The cause of such palpitations, which usually lasts a few seconds, is insignificant. However, if a heart condition has been experienced before, it is absolutely necessary to consult a doctor without wasting time. In addition, if heart palpitations cause nausea, severe dizziness, shortness of breath, or a feeling of discomfort in the chest, medical help should be sought without wasting time.
Heart Palpitations in Children
Heart palpitations in children can occur due to congenital heart diseases. Especially in newborn babies, a physical examination and ECHO performed at the time of birth or a few days later allows early detection of arrhythmia problems or other heart diseases that may occur later in life.
Controlling and treating the symptoms of heart palpitations at a young age prevents the disease from reaching serious dimensions. For this, children should definitely be examined by a specialist cardiologist when starting kindergarten. When it comes to the primary school period, heart rhythm disorder should be checked with ECG and ECHO. This prevents heart failure, which can occur even in a child's 20s.
Heart Palpitations When Falling Asleep
Heart palpitations are conditions that often occur in situations such as physical activity, fear, anxiety, excitement, and resolve spontaneously. However, some people wake up from sleep with severe heart palpitations during sleep. As the underlying causes of this condition, a person's irregular diet, lack of exercise, or medications that he uses can cause side effects. In addition, excessive caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol consumed during the day can also cause heart palpitations during sleep.
Some people have heart palpitations that begin when they go to bed. This condition, which is mostly experienced by older people during falling asleep, should definitely be evaluated by a specialist doctor. Frequent repetition of this condition can be a harbinger of a number of heart diseases.
If the heart palpitations experienced during sleep or while falling asleep are not caused by any heart problems, they are often caused by factors such as energy drinks, smoking, fatty food, trying to sleep with a full stomach during the day. Therefore, their use should be reduced, switching to sleep at least 30-45 minutes after eating.