Irregular heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations occur when the heart beats faster than normal. The electrical impulses that coordinate with the heartbeats do not function properly which results to rapid or slow beating of the heart. An irregular heartbeat can feel as fluttering or a racing heart and can be harmless, but it can be bothersome sometimes or can be life-threatening condition.

An irregular heartbeat can happen anytime of the day or night and the episodes last for a few seconds up to several minutes.

Symptoms of irregular heartbeat

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Slow heartbeat or bradycardia
  • Fast heartbeat or tachycardia
  • Sweating
    Irregular heartbeat

    Irregular heartbeat can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Feeling of panic or anxiety
  • Flushing

Causes

  • Heart attack
  • Changes in the structure of the heart such as cardiomyopathy
  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Scarring of tissues of the heart caused by a previous heart attack
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse and stress
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Excessive drinking of alcohol or caffeine
  • Over-the-counter medications for cold and nutritional supplements
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Sleep apnea

Treatment

  • Lifestyle changes such as minimizing the consumption of caffeine and avoid stimulants, alcohol and smoking.
  • Eating heart-healthy foods that are low in salt content and solid fats as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Perform exercises regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid being overweight to prevent the development of heart diseases.
  • Perform Valsalva maneuver which stimulates the 10th cranial nerve or vagus nerve and result to slowing down of the heart rate. Pinch the nose and close the mouth and try breathing out forcibly. This will cause acceleration of heartbeat and then slowing down. Avoid using this treatment if suffering from heart disease.
  • Coughing vigorously for at least a few minutes breaks the pattern of an irregular heartbeat or palpitation. It will cause pressure to build up in the chest and restore the normal rhythm of the heart.
  • Perform deep breathing to lessen anxiety, panic attack and normalize the heart rate. It also relaxes the body and increases the supply of oxygen to the brain.
  • Drink a glass of cold water to restore the normal heartbeat. It also lessens stress, dizziness and anxiety. Another alternative is splashing cold water on the face or take a cold shower.

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