Doctor, my heart’s beating like crazy!

Think of Your Heart chronicles by , April 1, 2014 - 14:00

Heart palpitations are rapid or irregular heartbeats. The symptoms vary depending on the person and the cause: some people will feel nothing, while others will have palpitations on the slightest effort or even at rest, up to and including loss of consciousness and even sudden death.

Heart palpitations can be caused by a number of things: 
The most common: 

  • extrasystoles (the heart “skipping a beat”): these palpitations are not dangerous;
  • atrial fibrillation (more common in the elderly): an irregular heartbeat that can cause blood clots to form in the heart, possibly leading to a stroke

The most dangerous: ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, which can cause loss of consciousness and even sudden death.

Treatments most often consist of a combination of:

  • medications, 
  • ablation of the short-circuits causing the tachycardia using catheters inserted through the groin,
  • implantable pacemakers or defibrillators.

If you experience heart palpitations, talk to your doctor.

Contributed by Dr. Blandine Mondésert, cardiac electrophysiologist

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