When Your Heart Rate Slows
Sometimes our hearts beat slower than 60 beats per minute. This is called bradycardia. For some people, like athletes and healthy, young adults, this heart rate could be normal. But for others, it could be caused by your brain and other organs not getting enough oxygen to function like they should.
If thatâs the case, you may feel faint, dizzy, weak, or short of breath. You might also have chest pains, memory problems, or tire easily.
What To Expect At The Doctors
When you go to the doctor to get evaluated for heart palpitations, your general practitioner will likely listen to your heart with a stethoscope. The doctor would be able to detect a palpitation if it occurred, and they would also be able to determine the presence of mitral valve prolapse or a heart murmur in many cases. But the tricky thing is that during the few seconds the doctor is listening, your heart likely wont palpitate.
So, if youre worried about your palpitations, your general practitioner will refer you to a medical specialist in cardiology, or a cardiologist. When you visit the cardiologist, you may get an EKG . An EKG will reveal abnormalities in your heart rhythm. However, its also very likely that an EKG will not reveal anything abnormal, since it is only a 12-second test.
A cardiologist may recommend that you wear a Holter monitor for as short a duration as 24 hours, or as long as a month. When wearing a Holter monitor, you will be asked to press a small button whenever you feel symptoms. You may also be asked to record your symptoms on a sheet of paper. This information is useful because it allows the doctor to read the results of the Holter, and line them up with what you are experiencing.
Narrowed Arteries And Heart Valves:
An Arrhythmia in a person can cause Tachycardia or Bradycardia, thereby causing the heart to pump more blood to meet the bodys demand for oxygen-rich blood. Also, when the heart valves and arteries around the aortic region are narrowed, the same effect is exhibited, thereby reducing the amount of blood reaching the heart muscles and brain.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Heart Palpitations And Anxiety
Many people have heart palpitations caused by situational anxiety. You can use relaxation strategies to successfully manage this anxiety. These strategies can slow down your heart rate in the moment.
If you have heart palpitations caused by chronic anxiety disorders, there is hope. You can also manage your anxiety with proper treatment. A good team of healthcare providers can help you build a coping strategy.
If you suspect another health condition is causing palpitations with or without anxiety talk to your provider about treatment. To relieve your symptoms, your provider will treat the cause. You may also benefit from anxiety-relieving therapies.
How Do You Feel When You Have Arrhythmia
An irregular heartbeat is referred to as a arrhythmia. Its a sign that your heart isnt normal. It could be that your heart skipped a beat, or it could be that itsfluttering. Doctors call it bradycardia if it feels like it is beating too fast. You may not notice anything at all.
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When To See A Doctor
While PVCs are normally harmless, certain types of arrhythmias, like atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation , can lead to cardiac arrest and heart attack. VFib can paralyze the heartmaking it unable to pump blood. If left untreated, VFib can lead to cardiac arrest. If you feel a persistent irregular heartbeat, your doctor can help diagnose the type of arrhythmia and monitor your heart. They may refer you to an Electrophysiology lab, where they can test, diagnose and treat arrhythmias.Get emergency medical attention if you experience dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath and pain in your chest. These symptoms could be a sign of a severe arrhythmia and heart attack. Similarly, if you notice numbness on one side of your body, confusion, facial drooping and muscular weakness, these symptoms could be a sign of a stroke.
Are Heart Palpitations From Anxiety Dangerous
Although heart palpitations can be alarming, most arent dangerous. They usually go away after the anxiety-causing situation passes.
Less commonly, heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious health problem, such as arrhythmia . These heart palpitations may feel like they cause anxiety rather than follow it. If you have palpitations along with chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or confusion, seek medical help right away.
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Treatment Options For Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a chronic condition that is not necessarily curable but can be treated with medications to control your heart rate, blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke, catheter ablation procedures, surgical procedures and implantable devices.
Your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan based on factors such as:
When To See A Doctor Immediately
Dr. Hummel says it can be difficult for most people to know if an irregular heartbeat is a sign of something more serious.
Go immediately if you have additional symptoms with your irregular heartbeat or youve had a heart attack or other heart stress. According to Dr. Hummel, those symptoms include fainting, dizziness, chest pain, swelling in your leg or shortness of breath.
Theres a big difference between sitting in a chair and noticing your heart skipping and having fluttering that makes you feel like Im going to pass out, says Dr. Hummel.
The other issue is whether your heart is structurally normal. If its not, abnormal heart rhythms more commonly will increase your risk of stroke or sudden death.
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How Stress May Trigger An Afib Episode
During times of stress, your body releases stress hormones that can increase your blood pressure and trigger an AFib episode. Stress can arise from many aspects of your daily life. The two main types of stress, physical and emotional, have varying effects on your body.
Physical stress includes sleep deprivation, sickness, injury, and dehydration. Emotional stress occurs when you experience negative emotions including sadness, anger, and fear.
It is very common for unhealthy habits to arise from stress. Habits such as poor diet and alcohol or caffeine consumption can increase your blood pressure and trigger an episode. In order to manage your episodes, its necessary to find healthy ways to manage your stress.
What Does A Heart Palpitation Feel Like
A heart palpitation creates very strange sensations. Heart palpitations commonly feel like your heart has skipped a beat or is fluttering or pounding. A palpitation may feel a little different for everyone, though generally, the symptoms make you hyper-aware of the beating of your heart.
Some people experience palpitations on occasion, while other people have them very often. Lets dive right into reasons you might experience heart palpitations.
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Can An Irregular Heartbeat Disappear
Maybe you’ve experienced an irregular heartbeat in the past, and you wonder if it was an isolated occurrence.
The states that an irregular heartbeat episode can stem from several distinct factors. Your heart could be affected by an electrolyte imbalance, or you might be coping with an acute illness. Alcohol or drug use can also cause an irregular heartbeat.
If the episode’s determining factor is resolved, you might never be affected by an irregular heartbeat again. Or, you could have additional episodes at any point throughout your lifetime. Fortunately, most occurrences of irregular heartbeat don’t indicate a serious problem.
So, what can you do to minimize the chances it will happen again? The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends you decrease your caffeine intake, and stop using nicotine in any form. Embarking on a well-rounded exercise program is also advisable.
Find ways to knock down your stress and anxiety levels. By keeping yourself calmer, you’ll be less likely to experience palpitations, and better able to cope with them when they do occur. Ask your physician to recommend some deep breathing or relaxation exercises.
Begin to practice yoga, tai chi or meditation on a consistent basis. They will help to promote a sense of calmness, and may also improve your balance and coordination.
Exercise And Heart Palpitations
There are many reasons why you might experience heart palpitations with exercise, as explained by Harvard Health Publishing. Consider what you’ve had to eat and drink prior to your workout. Palpitations can be caused by low blood sugar, dehydration, low potassium levels or too much caffeine.
To help avoid these culprits, eat a small meal consisting mainly of carbohydrates and protein two to three hours prior to your workout. This will allow your body to digest your food and use it as fuel for exercise.
Don’t just drink water while you’re exercising. Be sure to stay hydrated drink water throughout the day and monitor your urine color. The lighter it is, the better your hydration level. If your workout will last longer than one hour, drink a sports drink during exercise to replenish electrolytes, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
Monitor your caffeine intake too. In addition to watching your coffee and soda intake, be sure to read the labels on your workout supplements many of these contain high amounts of caffeine to boost energy levels.
If you’re sick, you are more likely to experience palpitations when working out. Risk of this side effect increases if you have a fever or are taking certain medications. Underlying medical conditions, such as anemia and hyperthyroidism, can also cause heart palpitations.
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How Stress Relates To Afib
While stress does not directly cause atrial fibrillation, it can have an effect on a patients episodes. The most common risk factors for AFib are high blood pressure, diabetes, age, or a family history of AFib. Stress can have a great effect on a patients condition and lead to increased AFib episodes.
Patients may notice longer or more severe AFib episodes during times of stress. Studies have shown that a high percentage of people with AFib experience increased levels of stress. AFib is also linked to other effects on mental health, including depression.
How To Calm An Afib Episode
While there is no cure for AFib, medical professionals focus on symptom relief and complication prevention. There are many at-home methods to consider to help calm AFib episodes.
Engaging in relaxing activities, such as light exercise or yoga, deep breathing and meditation can help your body deal with stress. Overall, make sure to get enough rest and take care of your body, eat healthily, and stay hydrated. If you start a new exercise regime that may be stressful on your body, consult with your doctor first.
If you are suffering from a heart rhythm disorder, consider visiting the cardiac electrophysiologists of Heart Rhythm Consultants. Our care coordinators can give you more information about testing and treatment options, including cardiac ablation therapy. We value your health and well-being above all else. Speak with a care coordinator today.
Dont Ignore The Warning Signs
If theres one parting thought I can impress on you, its to never ignore heart palpitations.
No matter what age you are or how good of shape youre in, if you feel fluttering, skipping, or any other kind of irregular heartbeat, get it checked out by a cardiologist. The cause of your situation may well turn out to be nothing to worry about. But if thats not the case, the sooner you begin treatment, the better off youre going to be. This is definitely one of those instances when its better to be safe than sorry.
References and Resources
Electrophysiological Testing And Mapping:
This is a process in which doctors connect multiple electrodes tipped catheters to various regions of your heart. This is done to see what is triggering and halting an Arrhythmia and which portion of the heart its originating from. This test helps doctors diagnose the nature of the irregular heartbeat, to understand its triggers and foresee situations that can simulate these conditions.
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Anxiety Or Afib Understanding The Signs Of An Irregular Heartbeat
Life Line Screening
If you had an irregular heartbeat, would you be able to tell on your own? Or would you attribute the signs to something else, like anxiety, panic attacks or stress?
Many people often confuse the symptoms of a panic attack with those of a heart rhythm problem like atrial fibrillation . Study results1 published in the journal Heart Rhythm found this to be true. Specifically, the study found that a large number of participants either overestimated or underestimated their symptoms. Among those who overestimated, a majority were those previously diagnosed with an anxiety or depression disorder.
This means that people with anxiety may think they have signs of an irregular heartbeat, but it is actually their own anxiety or panic attacks that are causing the symptoms.
The study also found that participants who had atrial fibrillation may experience a positive feedback loop, resulting in heightened anxiety which leads to increased atrial fibrillation symptoms. For some patients, atrial fibrillation can actually trigger a panic attack.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine which came first, the panic or the tachycardia , said heart rhythm specialist John Day MD, in an Everyday Health article2. With a heart monitor we can usually determine if it is really a panic attack or an arrhythmia.
One way to determine if what youre experiencing is atrial fibrillation or anxiety is to understand both sets of symptoms. AFib symptoms may include:
When To Evaluate Heart Palpitations
Palpitations are symptoms of everything from short or long-term stress to a variety of arrhythmias . They may feel alarming, but do not always reflect a serious heart condition. Joseph Marine, M.D., vice-director of the Division of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins, starts his evaluation by asking his patients what they hear.
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What Is An Irregular Heartbeat
An irregular heartbeat goes by many names. Some people refer to them as heart palpitations. Others refer to it as arrhythmia. Others refer to it as premature ventricular contractions . All of these are generally referring to the same thing – alterations in the rhythm of your heart. It’s also experienced differently by different people. While some may feel like their heart has skipped a beat, others may experience a sudden acceleration and pounding of their heartbeat.
These symptoms can occur even in the healthiest of people. While PVCs can, in theory, aggravate underlying heart conditions and can be caused by factors other than anxiety, they are very often anxiety and stress related. Many are harmless.
How Long And How Often Do I Need To Meditate
You can start with just a few minutes at a time. It is normal to be distracted during meditation. When youre distracted by a noise or a thought, dont judge the distraction and yourself for being distracted. Simply note the distraction and re-direct your focus to your breathing or whatever you were using as a focus. Meditation is not a skill, it is a practice. Working up to 10- or 15-minute sessions daily or a few times a week can be a reasonable goal to begin.
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There Are Different Types Of Irregular Heartbeat And Various Causes You Should Know When It Is Serious Arrhythmia Will Require Careful Monitoring And Treatment
The heart is an intricate structure consisting of valves, chambers and nodes that control the pumping of the blood, ensuring that it reaches its destination. With such a complex system, any damage to any of these components may cause changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat. However, if you do notice your heart literally skipping a beat, dont panic. An irregular beat may not indicate anything dangerous, but you will need to get it checked out by your doctor.
When To Worry About An Irregular Heartbeat
Butterflies in your stomach you know the feeling. That flutter sensation that creeps up before a big work presentation or meeting someone on a blind date.
But have you ever felt butterflies in your chest? Or like your heart is still running the marathon youve already finished? We asked Andrea Robinson, MSN, ACNP, an electrophysiology nurse practitioner at OhioHealth Heart & Vascular Physicians, what these feelings mean and when you should call your doctor.
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Other Methods Of Reducing Heart Rate Fears
It’s can be challenging to directly control your heart rate. But you can control the way that you react to it. One helpful coping strategy is to exercise. Being physically active actually lowers your general resting heart rate in the long term, but in such cases your heart becomes much more efficient overall. Exercise is also a great-way of combating anxiety. With exercise, therefore, you’ll be less likely to have a slowed pulse thats anxiety related and you can be more confident that your low resting heart-rate is actually a sign of your physical health, rather than any possible problem.
Seeing a doctor is obviously a good idea as well. Ruling out the most likely medical causes of a low heart rate may not calm you down completely – especially if you still struggle with anxiety – but it may well give you some peace of mind that your low heart rate is not related to any medical concerns.
Beyond that, try to stop searching on the net for ways to make sense of your low heart rate. Online, you’ll find countless explanations for a low heart rate and you may convince yourself that you’re suffering from a more serious issue, even if youre medically healthy and well.
Finally, learn to control your overall anxiety. The less anxiety you experience, the less you’ll focus on your heart. The less time you spend worrying about your heart, the less likely you are to experience a low heart rate as a result of anxiety.
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