Trish Flanders is a nurse and clinical educator at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa.
Question: When I get overloaded at work, I get heart palpitations. Should I be concerned?
Answer: Palpitations are sensations that feel like your heart is fluttering, pounding or racing. You may simply have an unpleasant awareness of your own heartbeat, or may feel skipped or stopped beats. The heart's rhythm may be normal or abnormal. Palpitations can be felt in your chest, throat or neck. Palpitations are usually not serious, but they may represent an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Heart palpitations can be caused by many things, such as exercise, anxiety, stress, fear, fever, caffeine, nicotine, overactive thyroid, anemia and some medications. Try to manage what you can, such as reducing your caffeine level. Keep a record of how often you have palpitations, when they happen, how long they last, your heart rate at the time of the palpitations and what you are feeling at the time. This information may help your doctor figure out both their seriousness and their underlying cause.
You should call 911 if there is:
- Lose of consciousness.
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, unusual sweating, or lightheadedness.
Call your doctor right away if:
- You feel frequent extra heartbeats (more than six per minute or coming in groups of three or more).
- You have risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You have new or different heart palpitations.
- You have a pulse that is more than 100 beats per minute (without exercise, anxiety, or fever).
Submitted February 2010