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What Does It Mean That Your Heart Skips A Beat?

In an ordinary day, when your heart beats to pump blood into your body, you don’t be aware of these beats. But, you feel sometimes that your heart skips a beat. This sensation is known as heart palpitations.

The definition of heart palpitations varies from person to person. Often, when people experience heart palpitations, they describe this condition like the heart is pounding, fluttering, or beating irregularly. People feel usually these sensations as a pounding in the chest or neck. Also, it can be experienced a sense of unease. Sometimes, you may feel that your heart beats faster than usual.

If you are experiencing heart palpitations for the first time, they can cause anxiety and panic. Heart palpitations are often not dangerous. So, most of the time, there’s no reason to worry. If it is not caused by any health problems, after a while, they will end on their own.

However, heart palpitations can sometimes be related to health problems in the heart or elsewhere in the body. Therefore If you feel that your heart skips a beat in an unusual way, you should care about this situation. In addition, you may need medical treatment to prevent recurrence of heart palpitations.

Heart palpitations affect each person differently. For most people, they can last a few seconds or several minutes. Rarely, it is also possible that heart palpitations may take longer. Some people may experience more than one heart palpitations a day. Heart palpitations can be very strong from time to time. In this case, you may think you are having a heart attack.

A heartbeat is a pumping action that takes about 1 second. Briefly, if your heart skips a beat during this period, this is a heart palpitation.

Causes of Skipped Beats

heart palpitations causes

1. Lifestyle & Habits

  • Doing heavy exercises
  • Sleep problems
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Consuming spicy foods
  • Using illegal drugs

2. Psychological & Emotional Factors

  • Stress
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attack

3. Medications

  • High blood pressure medications (Hydralazine, Minoxidil)
  • Asthma inhalers (Salbutamol, Ipratropium Bromide)
  • Allergy medications (Terfenadine)
  • Antibiotics (Clarithromycin, Erythromycin)
  • Antidepressants (Citalopram, Escitalopram)
  • Antifungal medicines (Itraconazole)
  • Cold and cough medicines
  • Diet pills

4. Hormonal Changes

  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Menstruation

5. Heart-Related Causes

  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart valve problems
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart muscle problems
  • Heart failure
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart disease
  • A prior heart attack

6. Other Health Conditions

  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Allergies

Heart Palpitations Symptoms

heart palpitations symptoms

Heart palpitations symptoms are not the same for everyone. But we can list the most common symptoms as follows. When people experienced heart palpitations, they can feel like their hearts skip a beat. We can say that skipping beats are among the most common complaints.

Other common symptoms of heart palpitations include:

  • Fluttering
  • Pounding
  • Throbbing
  • Beating too fast
  • Beating harder than usual
  • Sense of unease

Heart palpitations symptoms are usually felt in the chest and neck.

Diagnosis Of Heart Palpitations

heart palpitations diagnosis

Often palpitations insignificant and temporary. Sometimes, applied tests to detect underlying causes may not return any finding. Even, your heart palpitations usually disappear until you go to your doctor.

However, if you have persistent heart palpitations or have serious symptoms, it is extremely important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

The first step for the diagnosis of heart palpitations is physical examination. In addition, your doctor will also consider your medical history during the examination.

If doctors think there is a serious condition underlying your heart palpitations, they may order different tests for diagnosis.

Following tests can be used to identify the causes of heart palpitations:

Blood Tests

Certain values ​​in your blood can give clues about possible underlying causes of heart palpitations.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a common tool for evaluating your heart’s activity. This test records your heart’s electrical signals for about 12 seconds. In this way, it may be possible to observe the heart rhythm and to detect problems in the heart.

Holter Monitoring

Holter monitoring is also known as a continuous ambulatory electrocardiographic monitor. A Holter monitor that you wear records your heartbeats for 24-48 hours. Also, this longer time frame gives more data about your heart’s activities.

Treadmill Testing

If your heart palpitations are accompanied by chest pain, your doctor may order you to have an exercise stress test. A person will usually walk and run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle while the heart rate and rhythm are monitored.

Event Recording

Sometimes your heart palpitations can occur quite rarely. In such cases, you will need a device that will record your heart palpitations instantly. If there is such a need, your doctor will recommend a different type of monitoring device. Thus when your heart skips a beat, you can trigger this device and record your heart activities.

How To Stop Heart Palpitations

Avoid Psychological Triggers

As we mentioned earlier, heart palpitations can be based on stress, panic attack, anxiety. Activities such as breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi will help you overcome these psychological situations. If you can’t get over with these problems on your own, you can try to solve them by getting professional psychological support.

Change Your Diet and Habits

The underlying causes of your heart palpitations may be your diet or bad habits. In this case, it is quite possible to reduce your heart palpitations with some minor changes in your lifestyle.

Reducing the consumption of stimulating foods, such as caffeine and spicy foods, are beneficial changes to stop your heart palpitations. Also, moves such as limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking may help to stop your palpitations.

Get A Healthy Lifestyle

In addition, eating healthy, sleeping well, and exercising regularly is very important for your heart health. By adopting this lifestyle, you can also regulate your heartbeat. Thus, you experience less skipping beats.

Try Some Simple Methods

If you have a slight palpitation, as usual, you can try some methods to stop it on your own. But we underline once again if you feel unwell, the first option is to see a doctor immediately.

Valsalva Maneuver

Pinch your nose closed with the fingers of one hand. Close your mouth. Try to breathe out forcibly through your nose.

Bear Down

Clench your stomach muscles and your anal sphincter. Then bear down as if you are having a bowel movement. (This is another way to do the Valsalva maneuver.)

Cold Water

Splash cold water on your face, or immerse your face in a sink or large bowl filled with cold water.

Medical Treatment For Skipping Beats

heart palpitations treatment

If self-help techniques don’t help to stop and palpitations are still bothersome and continuous, you may need some medical options.

Doctors generally follow a treatment approach base on the underlying cause of heart palpitations. When you eliminate the medical conditions that trigger the heart palpitations, you can stop or reduce your heart palpitations.

If your heart palpitations relate to any diseases or disorders, your doctor may prescribe you some medications. Some medical problems require long-term medication. Medications called beta-blockers are sometimes used to treat heart palpitations.

For instance, a heart problem such as heart failure can be treated with multiple treatment approaches which include medication and lifestyle changes. Besides, surgery or cardiac catheterization may necessary for some heart disorders.

When Should I See A Doctor

First of all, if you feel an unusual activity in your heart or have other complaints such as shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, fainting that accompanying your heart condition, your best option is to call an emergency department right away.

Don’t go to the hospital on your own. Call an ambulance. Paramedics can begin treatment as soon as they arrive. You might be having a heart attack.