Palpitations are associated with heart arrhythmias and other heart-related problems, as well as non-heart-related issues. At his cardiology practice in New York City, Dr. Jeffrey Graf is skilled in diagnosing the causes of palpitations, helping men and women in Manhattan get the treatment they need to avoid serious problems.
Palpitations are very rapid or irregular heartbeats or fluttering sensations in the chest. Sometimes, palpitations can feel as though the heart is skipping beats. Most commonly, palpitations are felt in the chest, but sometimes they can also be felt in the neck. While occasional palpitations are not serious, some palpitations can be a sign of a serious underlying health condition that requires prompt medical attention.
Palpitations can occur for many different reasons, including:
While occasional palpitations generally are not a sign of a serious medical issue, chronic or persistent palpitations can be a sign of a heart problem or other serious medical issue. Because so many factors are associated with palpitations, it's always a good idea to call the doctor's office and schedule an evaluation to determine the underlying cause.
Sometimes, palpitations can be diagnosed with an office evaluation and a medical history to help identify underlying causes. Other times, medical tests like EKGs, blood tests, or cardiac stress tests and diagnostic imaging may need to be performed. Some patients may be asked to wear a special monitor that records their heart's electrical activity for a longer period, usually a day or so, to look for anomalies.
Palpitation treatment will vary based on what's causing the irregular heartbeat. Sometimes, palpitations can be treated with lifestyle changes like losing excess weight, changing medications, or restricting caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine. When palpitations are related to another medical issue like thyroid disease, treatment will be focused on managing that condition first. Palpitations related to a heart problem may be treated with medication or, sometimes, a minimally-invasive procedure to help stabilize the heart's electrical activity.