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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s causing my palpitations and how can I get rid of them?

Palpitations – an unusual awareness of the heartbeat – is a common cardiac symptom.  Most individuals will experience palpitations at one time or another during their lifetimes, and in the vast majority of cases, the palpitations do not indicate either serious heart problems or dangerous arrhythmias

Most of the time palpitations are perceived as either isolated “skipped heartbeats” (a pause, usually followed by a particularly strong beat), or an episode of rapid heartbeats.

Occasional palpitations in young, healthy individuals can usually be safely ignored.  But the cause of palpitations should be identified if a) they are frequent, b) they are sufficiently symptomatic as to begin to disrupt one’s life, c) they first appear after a person develops underlying heart disease, d) they occur in a middle aged person, especially one with risk factors for heart disease, or e) they are accompanied by more severe symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, or loss of consciousness.

The most common cause of palpitations is a heart arrhythmia, but in the large majority of cases the arrhythmia producing the palpitations are not life-threatening. Palpitations can also be associated with non-cardiac problems, and sometimes constitute an important clue that such a problem exists.

Click here for a more complete discussion of palpitations – what causes them, how they ought to be evaluated, and when they ought to be treated.

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