Facts about Heart Fluttering
Heart fluttering is a condition that most people have experienced at some time or another. It is the sensation of a heart beating too swiftly or irregularly. Heart fluttering is usually called “palpitations,” which are rapid, forceful, regular or irregular heartbeats that are quite noticeable to the individual. A rapid, regular heart fluttering may be associated with sensation of pounding in the neck as well, due to simultaneous contraction of the upper, priming chambers of the heart which is the atria and the lower, main pumping chambers called the ventricles. If the heart fluttering feels very irregular, then it is likely that the underlying rhythm is atrial fibrillation. During this type of rhythm abnormality, the atria beat so rapidly and irregularly that they seem to be quivering, rather than contracting. The ventricles are activated more rapidly than normal and in a very irregular pattern.
Heart fluttering occurs normally during an exertion or an emotion, but some people can have an increase or irregularities of heart rate without warning and without an apparent reason. This generates the sensation of heart fluttering which is due in the majority of cases to an impairment of cardiac rhythm or arrhythmia. Heart fluttering may also be associated with feelings of anxiety or panic; it is normal to feel the heart thumping when you are terrified of something If heart fluttering is short-lasting there is no problem for the child, but if it last more than half an hour, it is advisable to call on a physician or a hospital to make an examination and an ECG.
While heart fluttering can be a cause of concern to people who experience them, it is usually not a sign of an impending heart attack. For most people who are physically healthy and emotionally well-adjusted, they do not signify an underlying heart disorder but are most commonly caused by physical exertion, anxiety, fear, excessive smoking, too much caffeine, and ingredients in certain medications, including some cough and cold medications. In rare cases, heart fluttering is a long-standing accompaniment to an underlying severe anxiety disorder.
Heart fluttering can also be caused by actual heart disease. This can be distinguished by its particular pattern, depending on how heavy and regular the beating is. A cardiologist may be able to make a diagnosis based on the pattern, or may order an electrocardiogram for more precise information. When symptoms such as sweating, faintness, and chest pain occur with the heart fluttering, it is best to consult a cardiologist. As soon as the heart fluttering cause is determined, most people are able to live and deal with it and would not even notice.
Generally heart fluttering is not dangerous, even if it can provoke anguish, because it is unpleasant to feel the proper heart beating swiftly without reason. If extra beats are enough of a problem to warrant treatment, then usually a beta-blocking drug will be used. These block the effect of adrenaline on the heart, and are also used for the treatment of angina and high blood pressure. However, they can cause increased tiredness, sleep disturbance, depression, impotence, and can aggravate asthma. Other anti-arrhythmic drugs can be used if beta-blockers are not appropriate, but they too have potential side effects.
Heart fluttering which can already cause blackouts or near blackouts should be taken seriously. Even if ultimately nothing untoward is found you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to arrange the appropriate investigations if heart fluttering is associated with blackouts.
David M Peterson
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