You usually do not notice that your heart is beating. Palpitations are perceived as unpleasant because you then become aware of your heart activity, for example, at too high a resting heart rate and extra beats.
What are palpitations and restless heart?
Many people seek medical attention due to palpitations and fear that heart disease may cause this. However, beatings are common and are rarely caused by a severe illness.
A study published in 2012 based on findings from the Tromsø study shows that frequent experience of palpitations probably increases the risk of getting a particular type of arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) later in life.
Causes of palpitations and restless heart
Several conditions can cause palpitations:
- When you are anxious or stressed, the hormone adrenaline is released into the bloodstream. This makes the heart beat faster and harder. Palpitations, therefore, often accompany anxiety attacks and stressful situations, and this is the most common cause of palpitations.
- Extra stroke. The heart can take some extra beats without it being an expression of heart disease. Such extra beats are usually most noticeable when you are going to relax after physical or mental strain.
- Arrhythmias in the heart are sometimes the cause of palpitations.
- High metabolism can cause palpitations. As your metabolism increases, your heart needs to pump more to supply your body with adequate oxygen and nutrients.
- If you are anemic, the body needs to pump more blood to ensure the body’s supply of oxygen, which can cause palpitations.
- Alcohol, tobacco, coffee, drugs, blood pressure medications, digitalis (heart medicine), and asthma can also cause palpitations.
The likelihood of having heart disease increases if the palpitations are accompanied by chest pain, wheezing, dizziness, or fainting.
A simple examination of blood pressure and heart will reveal most heart diseases that may be relevant. Blood samples are also taken to check metabolism and blood percentage.
ECG will be able to detect signs of heart disease or disturbances in heart rhythm. If there is a strong suspicion of arrhythmias, you must rarely record an ECG over one or more days (Holter monitoring, 24h ECG) to detect any arrhythmias. The ECG is then recorded on a small tape recorder that you carry.
The treatment will depend on what is causing the heartbeat, and in most cases, the doctors will not find any disease in the heart.
A confirmation that the heart is healthy, and an explanation of the cause of the palpitations, will be sufficient for the ailments to subside or disappear.