A heart palpitation is a sensation that makes you feel as if you have skipped a heartbeat or your heart has started pounding faster. You may feel that your heart is racing, pounding or fluttering. During a heart palpitation, you may even become aware of your heartbeat. This sensation is not only felt in the upper left side of the chest, but it can also be felt in your neck, throat and chest.
Most of the times, heart palpitations are harmless and they can be treated on their own. However, in rare cases, these palpitations can also be indicators of a serious condition. If your heart palpitations are accompanied with the following, get immediate medical attention:
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
Causes of Heart Palpitations
There are many causes of heart palpitations. These causes can be classified as non-heart related causes and heart related causes.
Non-heart related causes:
- Emotions such as anxiety, fear and stress
- Strenuous physical activity
- Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs such as cocaine
- Medical conditions such as thyroid, low blood sugar level and low blood pressure
- Hormonal changes due to menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Heart palpitations during pregnancy may be a sign of anaemia.
- Medications such as diet pills and asthma inhalers. These also include some herbal and nutritional supplements.
- Abnormal levels of electrolyte.
- A prior heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
- Heart muscle problems
Management of Heart Palpitations
The management of heart palpitations depends on the cause of the palpitations. Most of the times, palpitations are not serious and can be easily treated and managed by making a few lifestyle changes.
1) Practicing Yoga
One of the main causes of heart palpitations is stress. The best way to deal with this is to practice yoga, meditation and do exercises that relax your mind, body and soul. Simple meditation or breathing exercises such as ‘pranayam,’ can help you relax your mind and get rid of stress.
2) Eliminating Certain Food Items from your Diet
Sometimes palpitations may be caused due to consuming heavy meals that are rich in carbohydrates, sugar or fat. To better understand which foods cause palpitations, it is a good idea to have a food journal wherein you keep a record of this. The journal will help you understand which foods affect you, so that you can avoid consuming those food items.
3) Cutting out Caffeine
Another way to manage heart palpitations is to cut back on the amount of caffeine you are drinking. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause palpitations, so limit your intake of alcohol as well.
4) Quit Smoking
5) Avoid Certain Medications
Some medicines, such as those prescribed for cough and cold, can act as stimulants. These medicines may also be the reason behind heart palpitations. If you experience heart palpitations after having certain medicines, inform your doctor about this and ask him to prescribe an alternative medicine.
Apart from the ways mentioned above, try sticking to a healthy diet, manage your weight and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Doing so will be very beneficial for your overall health as well.
Sources: Healthline, Heart to Heart Paediatric Cardiology, Pixabay, Texas Heart Institute, WebMd.