It's a scary feeling when your heart begins to race or beat irregularly for no apparent reason. These palpitations can hinder your everyday life, but until you know the reason behind them don't jump to conclusions.
Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist, has written a piece for mindbodygreen.com to explain the different sensations. The term 'palpitations' derives from the Latin word palpare, which means 'gentle tap'. Hearts beat around 50 to 90 times a minute while resting, known as the sinus rhythm - the most efficient way to get blood around the body.
When the rhythm turns irregular, this could be caused by the top of the heart pumping too early, known as a premature atrial contraction (PAC), or the bottom half doing the same, which is labelled a premature ventricular contraction (PVC).
"These can occur once and cause a thud in the chest, but they can also occur in multiples or runs, called atrial or ventricular tachycardia, which can indicate a serious underlying problem," he explains.
"Another common problem I see is when the top of the heart loses all organisation of rhythm and quivers, (some say it fibrillates like a bag of worms), creating atrial fibrillation or AFIB. This is so common that it dominates my hospital and office practice."
He has reassured readers that everyone at some point in their lives experiences their heart skipping a beat; even the healthiest of us. However, it's important you take into account your own and relatives' medical history in reoccurring cases. If you suffer other symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath or near blackouts, then these are definite signs you need to get things looked at.
Do you suffer from high blood pressure or have a history of an overactive thyroid? These are just some of the reasons behind the problem. There are also things such as too much coffee, stress and some medications such as inhalers which may cause irregular heartbeats.
To keep things in good shape, try adding extra potassium and magnesium into your diet by eating lots of plants and vegetables. Avoid stimulants and get yourself into a regular sleeping pattern, taking part in activities such as yoga to calm yourself down.
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