Causes of palpitations and common investigations

Palpitations refer to the sensation of feeling your own heartbeat, and they can be caused by various factors. While most palpitations are harmless, some may be indicative of an underlying medical condition. Common causes of palpitations include:

1. Stress And Anxiety

Emotional stress and anxiety can lead to an increased heart rate, causing palpitations.

2. Caffeine and Stimulants

Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine or other stimulants (such as certain medications) can trigger palpitations.

3. Nicotine

Smoking or using tobacco products can lead to palpitations.

4. Dehydration

Inadequate fluid intake can cause an electrolyte imbalance, affecting the heart’s normal rhythm.

5. Low Blood Sugar

An imbalance in blood sugar levels, especially hypoglycemia, can cause palpitations.

6. Certain Medications

Some medications, such as asthma inhalers, decongestants, and certain antidepressants, may cause palpitations as a side effect.

7. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations, especially during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can contribute to palpitations.

8. Thyroid Disorders

Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause palpitations.

9. Heart Conditions

Conditions like arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), heart valve disorders, or heart muscle problems can lead to palpitations.

10. Anemia

A low red blood cell count can affect the heart’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body, leading to palpitations.

Investigations to determine the cause of palpitations may include:

Records the electrical activity of the heart to detect abnormalities.

A portable device that continuously records the heart’s electrical activity over a 24 to 48-hour period, providing a more extended view of heart rhythm.

Similar to a Holter monitor but worn for a more extended period, typically for several weeks. It is used when palpitations are infrequent.

4. Blood Tests

To check for anemia, thyroid function, and electrolyte imbalances.

Uses sound waves to create a detailed image of the heart, helping to identify structural abnormalities.

Monitors the heart’s response to physical exertion, helping to identify exercise-induced arrhythmias.

It's essential to consult a healthcare professional if you experience palpitations, especially if they are persistent, severe, or associated with other concerning symptoms. They can help determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment or lifestyle changes.

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