Do you know that feeling you get when you catch a glimpse of the love of your life? It’s like your heart stopped for a minute, like it forgot to beat. And if it happens once in a blue moon, it may sound so romantic!
But what if you started experiencing this unsettling feeling more often, even when you’re resting? What if you felt your heart skip a beat when you’re working out, or if you get palpitations with a racing heart in the middle of a meeting?
The idea that there could be problems with your heart’s timekeeper can be stressful. We’ve answered 5 of the most common questions asked about skipped heartbeats and what to expect when dealing with palpitations.
Usually, electricity moves through the heart in a very regular and controlled manner. Your heart beats at a standard rate, an average of 60-100 beats per minute (ref. link) at rest. This is because the cells of your heart muscles conduct the electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to contract and pump blood in a very regular and controlled manner. It’s usually precise and consistent. Each set of contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle is picked up as a heartbeat.
Sometimes, the electrical impulses may misfire, causing your heart to skip a beat or throw in an extra beat. This disturbance in the rhythm is responsible for the odd feeling in your chest – as your heart jumps or flip flops. We commonly associate these feelings with heart palpitations called ectopic heartbeats or premature heartbeats.
Despite the skipped or added beat, the heart continues to usually function normally. There are two main types of ectopic heartbeats:
The causes of skipped beats could also be:
1. Lifestyle Factors
2. Hormonal Factors
3. Medical Conditions
The most common effect that the Covid 19 virus had on the heart was inflammation of the cardiac muscle or myocarditis. It usually resolves on its own as the infection dies down. But it can cause serious outcomes in some patients (ref. link), like arrhythmias, heart failure, acute coronary syndrome and venous thromboembolism.
A recent study showed that patients with Covid 19 often experienced increased heart rates, low energy and sleeping problems by using wearable devices and an app to track their symptoms.
According to data from Johns Hopkins (ref. link), patients recovering from the coronavirus sometimes show symptoms of a condition known as POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). This nervous system problem affects heart rate and blood flow. People have complained about rapid heartbeats, palpitations, brain fog and lightheadedness when getting up from rest.
This may explain why some people experience heart palpitations after Covid. These symptoms could be due to a problem with the heart but could also be because they have just recovered from a severe illness, may be dehydrated, and have spent time resting and inactive.
You may experience ectopic heartbeats in a variety of ways. You may feel like your heart missed a beat and then rebounded with a harder one and that it’s beating faster than usual or fluttering rapidly. This feeling can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
People experience skipped heartbeats even when they are just standing, sitting, or sleeping, not only when moving or exercising.
When you notice that your heart misses a beat often, you may wonder, “Are skipped heartbeats dangerous?” In most cases, if felt on their own, they may not be anything to worry about. However, if they are accompanied by: the following symptoms then it may indicate a bigger problem
If you notice ectopic beats, try to analyse if they followed any triggers or if your heart rate also starts increasing during an episode. You may experience bouts of palpitations that last for long periods and do not improve but get progressively worse over time.
This could indicate heart disease, and you should bring it up with your doctor so that they can get to the root of the issue. They usually recommend an ECG, a 2D echo, a stress test or continuous monitoring with a Holter for 24 to 72 hours to detect heart palpitations that aren’t found during a regular ECG exam.
Many people experience palpitations before and after exercise due to the fluctuations in adrenaline as you step up or decrease your pace or effort. However, further evaluation is advisable if these skipped beats are accompanied by difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, dizziness, blackouts, or loss of consciousness.
These can be worrying symptoms. How do you know if your heart is safe during exercise?
Continuous and real-time monitoring of your heart’s activity may be the answer!
Heart palpitations are known to be caused due to anxiety, stress, panic attacks, or any kind of fear. Some heart palpitations are connected to abnormal heart rhythms that might be caused due to various heart diseases.
Heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) may feel like a racing or a fluttering heart. The signs and symptoms include a slow or a racing heartbeat, chest pain, and shortness of breath. There are a number of other symptoms including anxiety and fatigue.
Heart palpitations are serious when they are accompanied by symptoms including severe chest pain, breathlessness, and unusual sweating. If you have pre-existing heart conditions or a family history of heart diseases and sudden death, you need to consult your doctor immediately.
The best way to treat heart palpitations is to avoid any triggers. Reduce your stress levels, try relaxation techniques and avoid stimulants to treat heart palpitations. You need to keep a tab on your water intake and ensure that you stay hydrated to prevent heart palpitations.
Lack of quality sleep, stress, and anxiety are some of the factors that can worsen your heart palpitations. It is recommended that you avoid stimulants (including heavy alcohol use, appetite suppressants among many more) to ensure that heart palpitations do not get any worse.
Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:
Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms | Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart rate | Heart Health | Cardiac Arrhythmia | Heart Palpitations | Running Heart Rate Zones | Low Heart Rate | Best Heart Rate Monitor
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