If you have the uncomfortable sensation that your heart is beating too fast, pounding too hard or skipping a beat, you may have heart palpitations. But are heart palpitations serious? Associate Professor Ching Chi Keong, Senior Consultant,
Department of Cardiology and Director,
Electrophysiology and Pacing,
National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), a member of the
SingHealth group, answers. (iStock photo)
Though heart palpitations are usually harmless, it is important to rule out any serious arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) or pre-existing heart problems.
"Heart palpitations are a very frequent symptom in the general population and it may account for about 15 per cent of clinic consultations here at NHCS," says Assoc Prof Ching Chi Keong.
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Symptoms of heart palpitations
- Fluttering in the chest
- Pounding heartbeat
- Slow heartbeat
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting sensation
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Causes of heart palpitations
Heart palpitations are common in all age groups. "Heart palpitations among women and younger patients usually have a benign cause. Men and older patients are more likely to have palpitations caused by arrhythmias," says Assoc Prof Ching.
Benign heart palpitations can be triggered by:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol
- Stimulant medications (weight loss pills, cough and cold medicine)
When heart palpitations become serious
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