The beat that my heart skipped
For some time now I've been getting heart palpitations. They come on at different times and sometimes make me feel quite unwell. I've tried changing my diet to eat more fruit and veg and stop drinking coffee, and I've even taken herbal calming tablets, but nothing seems to help. I'm starting to get really worried - what should I do?
As with any medical condition, the best thing to do is make an appointment with your local doctor (GP) so that you can get checked out. They'll be able to give you a proper diagnosis and offer advice as to what action, if any, you should take.
According to the British Heart Foundation, palpitations are an awareness of your own heartbeat. The heart may be beating at a normal rate, quickly, slowly or irregularly, or it may be missing beats. Most palpitations are quite harmless, although they can be unpleasant and distressing. There are many causes of palpitation, including fear, anger, physical activity, fever, stomach upsets or drinking alcohol. However, some palpitations are caused by disease, so it's important to get checked out if you have concerns.
A common cause of palpitations is anxiety. Feeling worried about your palpitations is likely to increase your stress levels, so it's important to try to keep relaxed and learn how to cope with stress.
Diet can sometimes play a part in causing palpitations. You've done the right thing by trying to adopt a more healthy diet, particularly in avoiding caffeine. Alcohol can also be associated with causing palpitations, so if you drink it could also be worth cutting down to see if this helps. As well as a healthy diet, you could try to do some gentle exercise to improve you overall fitness levels.
A condition closely related to palpitations is arrhythmia - a disturbance of the normal rhythm of the heart. As with palpitations, arrhythmia is quite common and often harmless, but it can also signify underlying problems so, if you think that's what you might be experiencing, you should see a doctor.
For more information about heart conditions, call the British Heart Foundation Information Line on 08450 70 80 70 (Monday to Friday).
Question answered by bss