Palpitations

Palpitations

“The Rhythm of My Heart is Beating like a Drum”   –  if you are not Rod Stewart, this symptom can be quite disturbing!

Do you feel your heart missing beats, or racing? Do you experience episodes of dizziness, breathlessness or chest pain? These symptoms and unexplained fainting episodes warrant close investigation as they can be related to a serious heart problem.

Causes

The most common cause of palpitations is  ectopic or extra heart  beats , often described as missed beats. These are almost always  benign, although they may not feel that way to the individual. One way to confirm benign ectopic beats is by demonstrating that physical activity which raises the  heart rate actually supresses the extra beats.

Other common arrhythmias include Atrial Fibrillation or Atrial Tachycardia, where heart beat is too fast , or Heart Block of various degrees where the heart rate is too slow.

Ventricular arrhythmias arising in the muscular parts of the heart can be a different story.  Ventricular Tachycardia or Ventricular Fibrillation will, more often than not, result in death , unless an electric shock is administered to induce cardioversion. This is the role for the Defibrillator, or “Packer Zapper” which are now frequently seen outside emergency departments, and in department stores and football stadiums.

That is most Sudden Cardiac Deaths(SCD) are caused by these serious arrhythmias, which may show little in terms of warning symptoms. Such events account for about 50 % of all heart related deaths.

It is important to call in to question certain symptoms such as loss of consciousness e.g. fainting, associated chest pain, and a family history of cardiomyopathy or Sudden Cardiac Death.

Investigation

A routine ECG when heart rhythm is stable  will  provide evidence of conditions which cause arrhythmia such as Prolonged QT Syndrome and Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome.

In an acute situation where palpitations are actually occurring it is ECG-ASAP. Get to the doctor’s surgery to catch your symptoms on an ECG.

Describing your symptoms  after the event is like  the telling of tall fishing stories fishing, where seeing is believing.

The next step in detecting intermittent palpitations is a 24 Hour Holter Monitor– just like a tape recorder a Holter records and analyses every heartbeat over a 24 hours period

More elusive arrhythmias can be tracked using an Event Monitor over several days.

An Echocardiogram may be indicated to exclude cardiomyopathy

A 24 Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure study may be indicated to exclude low blood pressure as the cause , or effect of heart arrhythmias.

For a full evaluation at Cardiac Dynamics, just call and request  “The Rod Stewart Test”

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