A couple of years ago, my mother suddenly sat down and started complaining that her heart was beating too fast and hard. Fearing the worst, we rushed to a hospital only to be told that what she was experiencing was actually heart palpitations.
Can Heart Palpitations Issue Be Cured – What Are The Treatments?
The sensation of your heart pounding fast and hard, skipping a beat or fluttering is known as palpitations. They can be felt in the chest, neck or throat. Heart palpitations can be quite the scary first-time experience.
How serious are Heart Palpitations?
Most of the time, heart palpitations are harmless – they only serve to frighten you. Causes for heart palpitations are:
- Stress, anxiety, or panic attacks
- Strenuous exercise
- Ingesting stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, drugs, etc.
- Hormone changes due to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
- Imbalance in the thyroid hormone
This does not mean you ignore heart palpitations. Sometimes, heart palpitations can have serious underlying reasons such as:
Frequent occurrence of heart palpitations could also be a symptom of a serious heart disease.
See a Doctor when:
Heart palpitations are accompanied with:
- Chest pain/ discomfort
- Fainting spells
- Severe shortness of breath
- Severe dizziness
While heart palpitations are usually harmless, we recommend that you visit your doctor for further reassurance. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and heart-monitoring tests be conducted for more information. Heart palpitations can lead to serious consequences such as cardiac arrest, stroke, or heart failure if the underlying cause is left untreated.
Prevention is Better than Cure
While heart palpitations caused due to genuine heart problems or hormone imbalance in the body may not be prevented, you can try the given tips to prevent palpitations due to stress etc.:
- Reduce stress levels: Get proper sleep, use relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, find ways to de-stress.
- Addressing anxiety and depression: Anxiety may lead to panic attacks causing palpitations. You can go for therapy to address and solve the underlying reason for anxiety and depression.
- Reduce stimulants: Avoid all forms of narcotic drugs and illegal drugs. Reduce caffeine intake, diet pills and even some types of cough and cold medicines. Reduce alcohol intake even though it is not a stimulant since it is also known to trigger heart palpitations.
- Appropriate exercise levels: Ensure you do not over-exercise or strain yourself too much. Understand your body’s tolerance level and stick to it.
Let’s move on to the more important part of the topic.
How to Treat Heart Palpitations
You are sitting and suddenly get heart palpitations. How do you stop them?
- Relaxation techniques
Sit cross-legged. Take in slow and deep breaths through your nose and breathe out slowly from the mouth. Continue until you feel calm. You can use other techniques such as meditation, Tai Chi and aromatherapy to calm down.
- Vagal manoeuvres
Vagus nerves connects the heart with the brain. Certain manoeuvres can stimulate the vagus nerve. Please get your doctor’s approval and suggestions before trying such manoeuvres at home.
- Take a cold shower.
- Splash cold water on your face.
- Apply a cold towel or icepack over your face for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Chant the word ‘Om’ or cough/ gag.
- Hold your breath and squat down like when you are having a bowel movement.
- Electrolyte balance
Electrical signals travel throughout our bodies with the help of electrolytes. Natural foodstuffs like avocado, bananas, sweet potatoes and spinach are sources for potassium. Dark leafy green vegetables are good source of calcium and magnesium. Consult a doctor before taking any sort of supplements to increase potassium, magnesium and calcium in your body.
In case of a serious underlying issue, the treatment prescribed by the doctors must be followed strictly. You must also avoid foods and activities that can trigger heart palpitations. In case of suffering frequent heart palpitations, you should keep a log to discuss the same with your doctor.
Heart palpitations are not something to worry about. However, do take the opportunity to consult a doctor and take a full body test for assurance.