Heart. The different meaning of palpitations

Heart. The different meaning of palpitationsCauses that make the heart beat too fast

Dr. Giovanni Martin, a specialist in Cardiology in Sanisystem centers, explains what to do if we get a heartbeat, a phenomenon widespread in the population, not just on Valentine’s day!

What are palpitations?

Palpitations are the perception of the mechanical activity of the heart and defined as “unpleasant sensation of the heartbeat”. The phenomenon is due to an increase in the force of contraction of the heart or an anomaly of the normal cadence of the beat.

The heartbeat itself may not be dangerous. The increase in the heart rate is in fact a normal, physiological condition, which occurs whenever the heart is subjected to physical or emotional stress. In conditions of rest and tranquility, cardiac activity, in fact, is not usually felt by the individual. 

Palpitations include a broad spectrum of phenomena ranging from simple increased heart rate to irregular heartbeat understood as lack of one or more of these. The presence of irregular beats is widespread in the population. If an electrocardiogram (Ecg) recording is performed for 24 hours with a special recorder, the presence of irregular beats (extrasystoles) varies from 40 to 70% of the population examined with a greater increase in old age.

But what is the meaning of this phenomenon?

But what is the meaning of this phenomenon?It can be completely harmless by limiting itself to the only unpleasant perception up to be a warning of dangerous events for the health or life of the patient.

What separates the two situations is in which heart the phenomenon occurs, if that is, it occurs in the absence or presence of a heart disease.

In fact healthy hearts can experience this feeling of abnormal beating. Anxious states, panic attacks, smoking, coffee abuse can increase the production of the hormone adrenaline which at the heart level causes increased heart rate or occurrence of irregular beats, even in the absence of heart disease. Especially digestive disorders such as abdominal bloating are often the cause of abnormal beats.

How do we behave then?

The first step in the medical examination is to carefully collect the patient’s history. The doctor must look for possible causes that favor the symptom, the mode of occurrence, duration. You should investigate whether there are any suspicious elements for impaired thyroid function or potassium deficiency in the blood that may be the cause of palpitations. The second step is the careful listening of the heart that allows to detect or exclude the presence of valvular heart vices that change the attitude towards the phenomenon that generated alarm.

What tests can be performed?

What tests can be performed?Fundamental stage is the execution of the simple electrocardiogram. It is an extremely routine examination, but it allows to suspect or exclude the presence of anomalies of the right ventricle or enlargement of the left ventricle. Both situations lay for the presence of a heart disease. Cardiological examination with Ecg is the first and most important step of evaluation. 

24-hour dynamic Ecg (Holter) is definitely the most widely used diagnostic device for assessing the patient with palpitations of an indeterminate nature. 

However, it should be borne in mind that the Holter may show the presence of disturbances in the heart rhythm, but it does not explain the cause of the phenomenon that will be evaluated by the doctor.

 

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