Having heart palpitations means that you are unusually aware of your heartbeat. They can cause feelings such as the heart skipping beats, pounding, or racing. These are rare feelings for most people. They can be brought on by caffeine, certain medications, illegal drugs, and even emotional events. If you’re dehydrated, even slightly, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which can increase your heart rate and cause an irregular heartbeat or palpitations.
However, heart palpitations can be a sign of more serious medical conditions. Palpitations can arise from either the upper chambers of the heart, called the Atria, or the lower chambers of the heart called the Ventricles.
When the upper chambers, Atria, beat fast, it may be something called Atrial Fibrillation. A person may have intermittent AFib or persistent AFib, but it is treatable, and in some cases, curable. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and stroke.
When the “palpitations” arise from the lower chambers, the Ventricles, they are called Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs). These can be benign, and a person may not need treatment. However, if you have frequent PVCs, you may need treatment and should see your doctor about them. Having frequent PVCs or certain patterns of them might increase your risk of developing heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) or weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). Rarely, when accompanied by heart disease (such as myocarditis), PVCs can lead to chaotic, dangerous heart rhythms and possibly sudden cardiac death.
Either way, you would want to identify the cause of these symptoms before they potentially cause other problems. Heart palpitations are usually harmless but could possibly be a symptom of another heart condition. Lightheadedness or fainting can be the first sign that you have an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat). This can happen because possibly your heart is not getting enough blood to the brain. Seek help with your doctor for a diagnosis.
For more information on the heart and spreading awareness of myocarditis, sign up for our newsletter. You’ll receive blogs, research, real-life stories, and more.