Can Anxiety Cause Irregular Heartbeat
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My very first panic attack was caused by a harmless heart palpitation that led me to overanalyze my heart rhythm to the point of severe anxiety. Afterward, I desperately sought answers regarding the cause of these palpitations. One question I was forced to investigate was, can anxiety cause irregular heartbeat?
Anxiety can absolutely cause an irregular heartbeat. Heart palpitations and arrhythmias are very common and often harmless phenomena that do not require treatment. An irregular heartbeat can also be caused by physical or emotional stress, dietary factors, or drugs like caffeine and nicotine.
For those of us without a medical background, anything seemingly abnormal about our heart rhythm can be terrifying. In this article, I hope to shed some light on the facts about anxiety and irregular heartbeats.
Everything that follows is what I wish someone told me when I experienced heart palpitations and panic attacks for the first time.
Anxiety Stimulants And Gender Also Affect Your Heart Beat
Some groups of people are at higher risk than others. Women who are menstruating, perimenopausal or pregnant may have a higher risk of experiencing heart palpitations because of hormonal changes.
Other groups at higher risk include people who:
- Experience regular panic or anxiety attacks.
- Take medications like thyroid pills or stimulants like caffeine and diet pills.
- Have an existing medical condition such as an overactive thyroid or a heart condition.
Next Time You Get Heart Palpitations Try This
If you feel your heart pounding, use these strategies:
- Relax: Lower your stress levels by using relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and deep breathing. These techniques can help bring your heart rate back to normal.
- Reach for some water: Dehydration can cause a heart palpitation, so if your heart flutters, chug some H20.
- Workout: Exercise keeps your heart healthy and increases your heart rate, which can prevent palpitations. Try a brisk walk around your neighborhood.
- Cough: Vagal maneuvers, such as coughing or throwing cold water on your face, can stimulate the vagus nerve which helps regulate heart rate. Talk to your doctor first before performing vagal maneuvers at home.
While heart palpitations often cause a lot of discomfort, most of the time they aren’t dangerous. If you can perform those at-home tips to temporarily relieve discomfort, then you can always decide if you want to see a cardiologist.
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Rule Out Underlying Medical Causes
Talk with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying medical causes. Knowing there is nothing wrong may help you relax when you do get palpitations. Besides possible heart conditions, there are other health issues that may cause palpitations. Among them are anemia, low blood pressure, dehydration, and an overactive thyroid condition. Hormonal changes in women, during menstruation, pregnancy, and perimenopause, can also cause palpitations.
Relieve Anxiety Reduce Afib
Anxiety and AFib play off each other, and thats no good for your body or your mind. If you know that anxiety triggers your AFib, make it a priority to get the stressors in your life under control as you craft a more heart-healthy routine.
If anxiety is too much to bear, dont suffer alone talk to your doctor about adding anxiety medication to your health management. You may not need to take it every day, only when things get very bad, but knowing that you have something on hand for emergencies can go far to reassuring yourself that youll get through the panic should it strike again.
Next, add exercise. Workouts dont need to be strenuous, but they do need to be regular: youll see more positive physical and psychological results when you commit to exercising several times a week. If youre not sure where to start, you may first want to meet with your doctor and a trainer to measure your current level of fitness, so you can choose an appropriate workout that respects your limits.
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Other Causes Of Palpitations
In addition to anxiety, there are several other causes of heart palpitations. Palpitations can be brought on by:
- Alcohol. Having one or two too many drinks in a night can get your heart racing. People who rarely drink to excess, but do so at the occasional party may feel a fluttering in their chest later. This is sometimes called holiday heart.
- Caffeine. Each persons caffeine sensitivity is unique. You might drink three cups of coffee every morning and feel fine. A co-worker might try that and develop palpitations, headache, and other side effects. With the popularity of high-caffeine beverages, such as specialty coffees and canned energy drinks, researchers are learning more about how high levels of caffeine can lead to heart rhythm disturbances, high blood pressure, and other problems.
- Chocolate. Palpitations can develop from eating too much at one sitting. Overdoing your food intake at a dinner or other event can lead to a version of holiday heart. Chocolate is particularly associated with palpitations.
- Medications. Cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine may trigger heart palpitations and jittery feelings.
For some people, palpitations are signs of an arrhythmia, a problem with the hearts electrical system that controls your heartbeats. A normal, resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. There are several types of arrhythmias. Each type produces unique symptoms, including an irregular heart rate. Among them are:
Triggers For Atrial Fibrillation: The Role Of Anxiety
1Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Anesthesiology, Nephrology and Geriatric Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
2Department of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
3Department of Neurosciences and Mental Health, Umberto I Policlinic, Rome, Italy
Atrial fibrillation is the most widely recognized arrhythmia. Systemic arterial hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and valvular heart diseases are major risk factors for the onset and progression of AF. Various studies have emphasized the augmented anxiety rate among AF patients due to the poor quality of life however, little information is known about the possibility of triggering atrial fibrillation by anxiety. The present review sought to underline the possible pathophysiological association between AF and anxiety disorders and suggests that anxiety can be an independent risk factor for AF, acting as a trigger, creating an arrhythmogenic substrate, and modulating the autonomic nervous system. The awareness of the role of anxiety disorders as a risk factor for AF may lead to the development of new clinical strategies for the management of AF.
2. Pathophysiological Insights for the Link between AF and Anxiety Disorders
Moreover, stress response has been described as resulting from a fight or flight reaction that can be the result of endocrine, nervous, and immune systems .
Conflicts of Interest
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What Are Heart Palpitations
When youre resting, you usually dont feel your heart beating, says Dr. Bibawy. When you can feel your heartbeat, youre having palpitations. Sometimes theyre expected, like after exercising. But other times, palpitations hit without warning.
You might feel palpitations in your chest, neck or throat, and they feel like your heart is:
When To See A Gp
You do not usually need to see a GP if the palpitations pass quickly and only happen occasionally. They’re unlikely to be caused by a serious problem and probably will not need treatment.
But it’s a good idea to see a GP if:
- the palpitations last a long time, do not improve or get worse
- you have a history of heart problems
- you’re concerned about the palpitations
To help find the cause, a GP may:
- ask about your symptoms and medical history
- arrange a blood test
- carry out an electrocardiogram to check your heart rate
If you cannot have an ECG at the GP surgery or the GP wants to arrange heart monitoring over a longer time period, you may be referred for tests at a local hospital.
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Look At Your Actions And Environment
Dr. Hummel says external factors could be causing disruptions in your heart rhythm:
- Too much caffeine or alcohol
- Eating or exercising
Dr. Hummel advises you make notes of when you experience irregular heartbeats and share this information with your doctor. Remember, not all unusual heart rhythms will require treatment. “Abnormal heartbeats can come and go, especially in young people, states Dr. Hummel.
Do Panic Attacks Affect Your Heart
Panic disorder linked to increased risk of heart attack, heart disease. As well as inducing a feeling of intense fear, panic attacks can cause physical symptoms including chest pain, heart palpitations and breathing problems symptoms that researchers say could represent a misdiagnosed heart condition.
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Peanut Allergies Irregular Heart Beat
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What Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like
Heart palpitations produce a sensation where it feels like the heart is fluttering, pounding, or skipping beats. Many people are scared when they feel heart palpitations. The good news is that most causes of heart palpitations are not serious and do not need treatment. If you know what causes heart palpitations, it may ease your mind when you feel them. However, some causes of heart palpitations are serious so you should learn when to be concerned about heart palpitations and when to see a doctor.
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Simple Lifestyle Modifications That Lower Your Risk
Try to cut out any known triggers such as smoking, heavy alcohol use, caffeine and energy drinks. A lot of young people tend to overuse some of the energy drinks, which is one of the leading causes of palpitations. Pencil in some time for self-care to reduce stress levels and lower your chances of palpitations. Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day and get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, too.
When To See A Doctor
Healthy people who experience only occasional heart palpitations that last for a short time usually do not have to see a doctor about their symptoms. However, you should see the doctor if you experience frequent heart palpitations especially if you have symptoms including:
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Pressure in your chest or chest pain
- Wooziness or fainting
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The Root Cause Of Anxiety And Heart Flutters
Anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitation, or flutters of your heart can be very concerning. Youre worried about whether youre having a heart attack, or whats wrong with your mind that youre so riddled with anxiety. Theres one root cause thats missed by doctors most of the time that has nothing to do with a heart or brain problem. Give a listen to learn more.
Hiatal Hernia is the reason whyThe problem is called a hiatal hernia. Hiatus means hole or opening a hernia is when something is protruding through an opening that it shouldnt. You may have heard of abdominal or inguinal hernias where someones intestines are pushing through an opening or tear in their abdominal muscles.
-Dr. Vikki Petersen, Founder
Is this hidden influence causing your symptoms?Is your health being affected by a hidden influence? Is there something your doctor is missing?
A huge percentage of Americans suffer from hiatal hernia and dont know it. Traditional medicine says it rarely causes symptoms, but thats because the symptoms it DOES cause, they never look for.
Do you suffer:
- bloating or pain in your abdomen?
- acid reflux or heartburn?
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
When you talk with your doctor, ask these questions if you think you may have anxiety or AFib.
If you suspect anxiety:
- Could my anxiety be related to my physical health?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Do I need counseling or medication?
- What can I do at home to feel less anxious?
- Are there foods or drinks I should avoid?
If you suspect AFib:
- Which type of AFib might I have: paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent?
- Whatâs the cause?
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Further Testing For Heart Palpitations
In most cases, we see patients in the emergency department whose palpitations have either gone away or arent critical by the time they arrive. Like a car problem that clears up when you visit the mechanic, this can be frustrating for patients.
We reassure them that just because we dont see an abnormal heart rhythm now doesnt mean that they didnt have one before. We check for any signs of damage or injury, and we may monitor patients for a few hours at the emergency department to see if they have another episode of palpitions, but there may not be enough time to capture an abnormal heart rhythm that comes and goes.
We often refer patients who have had heart palpitations to a cardiologist in the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. For example, we might diagnose an abnormal heart rhythm in the emergency department, but its not something that needs emergency treatment. Or we might not see evidence of an abnormal heart rhythm, but we think the patient could benefit from additional monitoring to rule out possible heart problems.
A normal heartbeat is easy to take for granted. So when we feel heart palpitations, it can be very scary. But with quick medical attention and advanced monitoring, your heart can beat steadily for a long time to come.
To learn more about heart palpitations, please visit .
What Causes Heart Palpitations
Older adults are more likely to have medical conditions that can increase their likelihood of having palpitations. But heart palpitations can show up in people of any age.
Some of the heart conditions that can cause heart palpitations include:
Other issues that can cause heart palpitations include:
- Being dehydrated
- Certain medications, including decongestants or inhalers for asthma
- Hormonal fluctuations in women who are menstruating, pregnant or about to enter menopause
- Problems with electrolytes, including low potassium levels
- Strong feelings of anxiety, fear or stress, including panic attacks
Overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, can throw off the hearts normal rhythm, causing palpitations. This type of thyroid disorder is treatable with medications to slow the heart rate and treat the overactive thyroid.
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Foods That Cause Heart Palpitations
By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Often when I write about the best and worst foods for the heart, I talk in the context of heart-healing foods that are good to eat, as well as foods that should be avoided because they fan the flames of inflammation. Those discussions focus on how the things we eat and drink every day affect heart health over the long haul.
Today, though, I want to shift gears and focus on foods that can have more immediate and noticeable impacts on the heartstarting with foods that can cause heart palpitations. In this article Ill explore: