When to Worry About Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations can be a disconcerting experience, often described as a racing, fluttering, or pounding sensation in the chest.

While occasional palpitations are generally harmless and may result from temporary factors like stress or overindulging in caffeine, they can also signal a more serious underlying condition.

Dr. Mark L. Meyer, founder of Madison Avenue Cardiovascular in Midtown Manhattan, offers tips for when and why to schedule an appointment regarding heart palpitations.

See a doctor when:

Palpitations are prolonged or recurrent

Occasional palpitations are usually benign, but if your palpitations occur frequently or last longer than a moment, you may have an underlying rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) that requires treatment.

Arrhythmias occur when faulty electrical signals in your heart cause it to beat too quickly (tachycardia), slowly (bradycardia), or irregularly. You may need medication, an implanted device (pacemaker), or other treatments to restore a normal heart rhythm and prevent life-threatening heart damage.

You have palpitations along with other symptoms

Pay attention to any additional symptoms that accompany heart palpitations, as they can provide valuable insights into the potential underlying cause.

For instance, symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fainting, or dizziness in conjunction with palpitations might suggest an arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, or other cardiovascular conditions requiring urgent medical care.

Palpitations happen during physical activity

Experiencing heart palpitations during physical exertion or exercise can indicate an underlying heart condition that warrants concern.

While it is normal for your heart rate to increase during exercise, an excessively rapid or irregular beat, especially if accompanied by chest discomfort or extreme fatigue, requires medical attention.

Schedule an appointment even if your symptoms resolve once you stop exercising, since this could indicate your heart is struggling to keep up with your body’s needs.

Palpitations occur along with preexisting heart conditions

If you have any preexisting heart condition, such as a history of heart disease, heart failure, or previous heart attacks, be particularly cautious when experiencing palpitations.

New palpitations or a sudden increase in the frequency of palpitations in such cases may suggest worsening of an underlying condition. It’s also possible you’re developing a new cardiovascular problem.

Dr. Meyer recommends scheduling an appointment sooner rather than later in these cases to ensure appropriate medical management and prevent potential complications.

You develop palpitations along with other health conditions

Certain health conditions can increase the risk of experiencing significant heart palpitations. For example, individuals with thyroid disorders, electrolyte imbalances, anxiety or panic disorders, or excessive stress might be more prone to palpitations.

If your palpitations occur frequently or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, Dr. Meyer recommends scheduling a visit so he can assess the potential impact of these underlying conditions on your heart health.

Otherwise, here at Madison Avenue Cardiovascular, we recommend you schedule a visit whenever you’re concerned about your symptoms or interested in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Meyer and our team offer a full range of comprehensive services focused on long-term health, including diagnostic studies, nutritional counseling, and chronic and acute disease management.

Schedule an evaluation today by calling our New York City office or requesting an appointment online.

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