Why is it important to know the cause of heart palpitations?

Dr. David K. Singh, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

“Palpitations” is a generic term that refers to a symptom. It usually, but not always, means that the heart is out of rhythm. The majority of palpitations are benign, but they occasionally can herald something more serious like atrial fibrillation. If you experience heart palpitations, it’s a good idea to see your healthcare provider.

When people complain of heart palpitations, doctors need to know why, since some palpitations are just a nuisance and others can be dangerous. Sometimes, palpitations may be caused by anxiety or too much caffeine. They can be caused by an overactive thyroid. Palpitations can also be due to a heart arrhythmia where the heart is suddenly triggered to go into a rapid rhythm.

Palpitations caused by heart rhythm disturbances require specific therapy. Sometimes the therapy is medication, and sometimes it's a procedure called ablation, where an electrophysiologist finds the area that's causing the rhythm disturbance and ablates (removes) it with cryotherapy or radiofrequency therapy. This actually destroys the area that caused the abnormal rhythm.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.