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6 Reasons You May Be Getting Heart Palpitations

By HERWriter
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6 Reasons You May Be Having Heart Palpitations Vasily Merkushev/Fotolia

If you have ever felt a fluttering sensation in your chest or throat, you may have just had some heart palpitations. Most causes of heart palpitations are not serious, and they typically stop on their own.

If you have a concern that the palpitations are caused by a heart problem, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Do so right away, particularly if they are accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating or chest pain.

However, there are a number of other reasons why palpitations may occur. Knowing possible reasons may help you modify an activity in your life to prevent palpitations.

1) Anxiety or Stress

Strong emotions like fear can cause a run of extra beats. The medical term for the most common type of palpitation due to stress is supraventricular tachycardia. SVT may occur in response to the body’s release of adrenaline and a need for extra oxygen, so the heart tries to speed up. Episodes of SVT also can happen during exercise for the same reason.

2) Caffeine, Nicotine or Alcohol

Supraventricular tachycardia may also occur when chemicals stimulate the heart the same way adrenaline does. Caffeine and nicotine can do this. Alcohol functions both as a stimulant and depressant, but according to Dr. Chris of Healthhype.com, alcohol may also affect the electrical rhythm of the heart and lead to palpitations.

More seriously, a combination of alcohol, lack of sleep and overeating can to lead to“holiday heart syndrome” where a potentially more concerning arrhythmia can develop called atrial fibrillation.

3) Medications

Pseudoephedrine, asthma drugs, and stimulants such as diet pills have qualities similar to adrenaline so may cause palpitations. Even certain drugs that are intended to block other arrhythmias, like beta blockers, can cause SVT.

Too much thyroid hormone replacement can stimulate palpitations, as can certain herbs such as ginkgo biloba, ginseng and valerian in high doses, according to Ray Sahelian, M.D.

4) After Eating

Palpitations after eating may be related to what you ate, to your body position or even to what emotions you experienced during and after the meal. Spicy or rich food could cause heartburn in some, leading to heart palpitations. An ingredient in the food like MSG, or even an allergen, might lead to heart palpitations, reported Healthline.com.

Some people may develop palpitations upon standing up after eating. Even the ]]>act of swallowing]]> has been reported to cause atrial fibrillation.

If the meal itself was emotionally stressful, this could bring on extra heartbeats, and not have anything to do with the actual food eaten.

5) Hormones

Heart palpitations can occur due to hormone swings during hot flashes in perimenopause and menopause. “After hot flashes, palpitations are the second most common complaint associated with perimenopause, and they can be scary,” explained Maribel Hernandez, MD, an electrophysiologist at Lankenau Medical Center.

Palpitations are also common during pregnancy.

6) Working the Night Shift

Sometimes the causes of heart palpitations are not straightforward. As a young nurse, I developed palpitations from working the night shift. My body did not tolerate the change in my circadian rhythm.

However, before the doctor determined that was the problem, I was sent to have an echocardiogram and an EKG to make sure my heart was healthy.

Remember, if you try to rid yourself of palpitations by avoiding suspected causes without success, do seek medical help. It's important to make sure there is nothing else going on that may be contributing to your irregular heart rhythm.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s health care and quality of care issues.

What are the different types of palpitations? Medicine.net. Retrieved Feb. 14, 2016.

Understanding Heart Palpitations After Eating. Healthline.com. Retrieved Feb. 14, 2016.

Ray Sahelian, M.D., Heart Palpitations Cause and prevention using herbs, vitamins, supplements, natural home remedy. October 18 2015. Retrieved Feb. 14, 2016.

Lankenau Heart Institute. Heart Palpitations: How Common Are They and Should You Worry? Retrieved Feb. 14, 2016.

Understanding Heart Palpitations After Eating. Healthline.com. Retrieved Feb. 14, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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