Any new or different sensation in the chest can send the mind into a spiral. Generally, we don’t feel our heart beating at all, so when we do, it can be disconcerting. However, there are occasions where the heart may flutter, flip-flop, thump, or otherwise beat irregularly. While, in most cases, these heart palpitations are harmless and no cause for alarm, there are scenarios where an irregular heartbeat is a sign of a more serious condition. So, how can you determine the difference? Here are a few signs that a fluttering heart needs further examination.
Fluttering Heart without Explanation
In most cases, a momentary change in heart rhythm can be directly attributed to some external factor. Exercise is a common cause, but emotions such as fear or anxiety can also be responsible. Likewise, consuming certain medications or large amounts of caffeine or nicotine can make the heart flutter. When a reasonable explanation is present, heart palpitations are generally harmless. However, if a fluttering sensation occurs without a contributing external factor, it is more likely to be a cause for concern.
Fluttering Heart with Other Symptoms
Heart palpitations alone may not be concerning. However, when accompanied by additional symptoms, there may be an underlying medical condition. These symptoms may include dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, shortness of breath and chest pain or pressure. If any of these are felt along with a fluttering heart, it is important to seek medical attention quickly.
Fluttering Heart and Your Medical History
For patients who have a medical history of heart disease, heart attack, or related health conditions, heart rhythm irregularities may be of greater concern. Having had a previous cardiovascular event, diabetes, high blood pressure, or being a smoker are all risk factors that can contribute to serious forms of arrhythmia such as AFib.
If a fluttering heart seems potentially dangerous based on the factors above, it is important to see a medical professional quickly. Even if a heart flutter seems normal, it is never a bad idea to mention the occurrence to a physician. A cardiologist can perform diagnostic tests to better determine the nature of heart palpitations and either offer reassurance that there is no underlying condition, or guide patients on managing and monitoring their arrhythmia should a diagnosis be reached.