Heart palpitations are extremely common, especially as we get older. Often, these tiny perturbations are nothing to worry about. If, however, they’re frequent or accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign of a serious underlying health problem that needs prompt medical attention.
At Prime Heart and Vascular, Kiran Kumar Mangalpally, MD, and Rishin Shah, MD, are skilled at diagnosing the cause of heart palpitations in patients at their practices in Allen, Frisco, and Plano, Texas. In this post, learn some of the most common causes of nighttime palpitations and how they’re treated.
Quick facts about heart palpitations
Heart palpitations may occur at any time of the day. When they happen at night, they can be a special source of anxiety, often because we tend to notice them more when we’re lying quietly — and worry about them more, too.
Fortunately, these tiny changes in your heart’s rhythm usually aren’t related to anything serious. Too much caffeine, an extra-stressful day, and even hormonal fluctuations can all cause irregularities in your heartbeat, including palpitations that cause brief periods of pounding, racing, or “skipping.”
People who lie on their left side may notice heart palpitations more often because their heart winds up “shifting” toward the left chest wall, making tiny changes in rhythm more noticeable. Other times, nighttime palpitations really are a sign of a more serious underlying problem, including heart disease or a structural problem with your heart or its components.
When to seek treatment
Occasional, brief heart palpitations usually aren’t related to a serious medical cause. You might try cutting back on caffeine or practicing stress management techniques to see if your palpitations resolve. However, because anxiety can cause palpitations, if changes in your heartbeat are worrying you, there’s no harm in having them evaluated — and the peace of mind you gain may help them go away.
On the other hand, if you have frequent heart palpitations or if they’re becoming stronger or more persistent, it’s definitely a good idea to schedule a heart evaluation as soon as possible. Because some heart palpitations can be a symptom of serious heart problems, you should call 9-1-1 if your palpitations are accompanied by:
- Chest pain
- Pain in your left arm or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive perspiring or clamminess
These could be signs of a heart attack or heart failure, requiring immediate, emergency medical care.
Diagnosing the cause of palpitations
Diagnosis begins with a review of your medical history and your current symptoms, including lifestyle factors that could be contributing to your symptoms. Our doctors perform an exam, along with an EKG and other tests as needed, like a heart ultrasound or stress testing.
We may order blood tests to look for nutrient deficiencies, check your thyroid, and rule out other possible causes. Some patients benefit from wearing a monitor at home to track their heart activity over time.
Once we determine what’s causing your palpitations, we can recommend treatment tailored to your specific needs. Sometimes, lifestyle changes can help, or we may prescribe medication to regulate your heartbeat. In other instances, we may recommend a surgical procedure to address valve issues or other structural problems.
If you have heart palpitations that are disrupting your life in any way, having a medical evaluation is the best way to find the cause and a solution. To learn what’s causing your nighttime palpitations, call 972-295-7017, or book an appointment online with the team at Prime Heart and Vascular today.