MORRIS – At one time or another, almost everyone feels their heart flutter. This feeling is common considering millions of people report each year they’ve felt their heart “skip a beat.”
Dr. Muhammad Marwali, a cardiologist with Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists, said in a news released that heart palpitations can occur in anyone regardless of gender, age or outward physical appearance.
“Palpitations usually stem from a rapid heartbeat, also known as tachycardia,” Marwali said. “The patient feels the heart racing or fluttering, and the experience is sometimes accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath and even loss of consciousness. Symptoms can also be accompanied by chest pain or discomfort, and they can last minutes, hours or even days.”
Heart palpitations are usually caused by stress and anxiety, illegal drugs or medical conditions such as thyroid disease, low blood sugar, dehydration and anemia. Too much caffeine, nicotine or alcohol also can cause the heart to beat faster for a period of time, as can prolonged physical activity or sensitivity to certain foods.
While heart palpitations usually aren’t harmful, they may indicate something serious if they are recurring and getting worse. It’s especially important to seek medical help if chest pain is present or loss of consciousness occurs.
“Depending on the severity of the symptoms, people should call 911 for medical help,” Dr. Marwali said, adding that a heart attack is typically characterized by more noticeable chest pain and shortness of breath. “If symptoms aren’t severe, they can discuss their symptoms with their physician or a cardiologist.”
A variety of cardiac diagnostic tests can be used to diagnose heart palpitations, including heart monitors, loop recorders, echocardiograms, electrophysiology studies and tilt table tests, Marwali said.
“Medical therapy can successfully treat heart palpitations, including invasive procedures such as catheter ablations if necessary,” Marwali said.
Marwali sees patients at office locations in Channahon, Morris and Ottawa. For information, call 815-705-1000.