Palpitations, or heart palpitations, are rapid or irregular heartbeats that feel like the heart is racing or fluttering.
Lots of things can cause the heart to beat quickly, including exercise, stress, fever, caffeine, nicotine, illegal drugs, thyroid disorders and certain medications. This can trigger palpitations, which are fluttering heartbeats – the feeling that the heart has skipped a beat or is beating irregularly. In most cases, these types of palpitations are harmless. The most common causes are:
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Diet pills
- Stimulants, both legal and illegal
- Stress or fear
Sometimes, palpitations are due to an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, and may be a sign of a serious medical condition. Arrhythmias can be caused by:
- Heart disease
- Genetic factors
- Chemical imbalances in the blood
- Certain medications such as those used to treat asthma, high blood pressure or heart conditions
- Thyroid conditions
- Injuries to the heart
- Low levels of oxygen in the blood
Frequent palpitations or palpitations that occur with fainting, chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, weakness, turning pale or nausea might indicate an arrhythmia and your child should be referred to a pediatric cardiologist for evaluation.
Most palpitations won't require any treatment. If an arrhythmia is causing the palpitations, treating its cause usually will stop the palpitations. Palpitations occurring repeatedly or with other associated symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.
Rare and complex congenital heart defects don’t always present a clear cut method of treatment. Often, there are multiple ways of approaching the diagnosis. Our physicians also are available to provide second opinions for families seeking alternative treatment options. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-2140.