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DominicX's avatar

Is it normal to get heart palpitations every now and then?

Asked by DominicX (28573 points ) May 30th, 2010

This is something that’s been happening to me ever since I was quite young. Every now and then what happens is that I feel an odd beat in my heart and it makes me have the urge to cough. It’s no more than a second or two and that’s how it’s always been. It doesn’t seem to correlate with whether I’m doing physical activity; it usually happens when I’m just sitting still.

I’ve just always wondered about this. I was worried about it when I was about 14 or so, I did tell a doctor and I had an EKG done, but nothing abnormal was found. Sometimes I go months without this happening, but other times it will happen a couple times in one day.

Does anyone else get this? Should I be concerned?

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19 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

No. Some causes are: stress, unaccustomed exercise, arrythmias caused by electrical fluctuations, too much caffeen, smoking more than normal, etc. If it continues visit your physician and ask for a EKG ( electro-cardiogram ).

DominicX's avatar

@CaptainHarley

Well, it’s been happening every now and then for years now, ever since I was 11 or so, seems to be the earliest I can recall it happening. It doesn’t seem to correlate with exercise and I don’t drink caffeine or smoke or anything. Not sure about the others; I do know that I don’t know anyone else who experiences this (although my mom says she has felt the feeling that I have felt before).

I haven’t been to the doctor’s for this in several years, so bringing it up again doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

chels's avatar

I’d get it checked out. It happens to me a lot more than normal which is why I’m getting it checked but my mom (who is in the medical field) says that it happening every now and again isn’t an unusual thing. However I’d still get it checked out since you haven’t in a while.

Mine usually come when I’m stressed or anxious about anything. Once I relax, I’m fine. They have been around more than usual lately, but that’s because I’m under a TON of stress from a bunch of different things. Are you stressed about anything? Or are you stressed when they come?

DominicX's avatar

@chels

I mean, sure, I’ve been stressed more lately because I have two papers due soon and finals are approaching, but this can happen at literally anytime and it doesn’t seem to matter how stressed I am. They haven’t been happening any more frequently than they normally do. It happened today, which is what inspired this question, but before today, the last time was probably a couple weeks ago.

gasman's avatar

Your palpitations sound like PVCs (premature ventricular contractions), which some people describe as the heart “skipping a beat.” A certain low level of PVCs is normal in every person. Adrenalin and other stress hormones can aggravate ventricular ectopy, as can caffeine and other stimulants. Ventricular ectopy can be associated with mitral valve prolapse (MVP) which is common among young women & usually not medically significant.

By itself, having occasional isolated PVCs is nothing to worry about. See a doctor if they occur more than about 10 times per minute, if they occur regularly such as every alternating beat (bigeminy) or between every two normal beats (trigeminy), or if they seem to run on for several beats in a row.

Also seek medical care if they’re associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness, however brief.

The most serious danger of frequent PVCs is progression into lethal rhythms, aka sudden death: ventricular tachycardia (v-tach) or ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). Only CPR (or a special pacemaker) can save you.

But with infrequent isolated PVCs that’s been going on for years, I’m not sure that your chances of sudden death are necessarily higher than if you rarely or never experienced PVCs.

Definitive diagnosis of your palpitations happens by catching them on an EKG tracing. A cardiologist would probably use a Holter monitor to record heartbeats continuously over a 24 hour period.

Also your symptoms could represent premature atrial contractions PACs instead—generally more benign than PVCs.

Probably it’s nothing. Good luck & hope you feel better!

chels's avatar

@DominicX I know what you mean ^_^ Believe me. Sometimes mine come when I’m just laying in bed. I don’t think it’s too much to worry about unless it starts happening a lot or more than usual.

gasman's avatar

I forgot to mention lack of sleep as a factor.

HungryGuy's avatar

Occasional palpatations are normal, but still, you should definitely see a doctor about this. If the doctor is thorough, you’ll be given an EKG, a sonogram, a stress test, and be given a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours. If the doctor finds nothing wrong, but the palpatations make you feel uncomfortable, he may prescribe something like Metoprolol to reduce their intensity.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve had slight, intermittent heart arrythmias for many years, but they are due to something called “early repolarization.” This is where the heart electrically repolarizes early, sometimes before the previous beat is finished, and are seldom anything to be concerned about. I think that your safest course of action is to make an appointment to see your physician.

JLeslie's avatar

If it happens quite regularly you can get a 24 hour heart monitor to catch the arythmia. A normal EKG in a docs office means nothing. There are several different types of 24 hour monitors. One type lets you hit record when you feel the problem, another type records 24 hours. Probably whatever you have will be considered benign. Does it feel like your heart is skipping or stopping for a moment? Or, is it pounding, like a rapid heart beat?

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie

That could work, but sometimes I go weeks without it, so it’s not necessarily guaranteed to happen in a 24-hour period.

And it feels like it skips for a second or two.

JLeslie's avatar

You might have wachenbach. I do. As you get older it might become more regular or more obvious. If you go through a period where it is happening a lot you can get it evaluated. You would have to go to a cardiologist I think. I told doctors for years my heart was stopping and they ignored it. Basically had no comment. WTF?! One primary doc I had did an EKG in the office and it was normal. Finally, I mentioned it to my GYN and he said, “go to a cardiologist.” Meanwhile, I don’t do anything for it. It is considered benign. When my thyroid is out of whack I am really aware of the arythmia, because my heart rate goes way down when I am hypothyroid and way up when I am hyper and missed irregular beats are exagerated. During really bad times I feel like I am going to wake up dead. My cardiologist said it is rare for people to be aware they have this type of irregular beat.

casheroo's avatar

I have anxiety issues, so having heart palpatations is nothing new to me. I get them when I start to feel anxious, I also have a fear of internal sensations..so I am a little too aware of my body. I can feel the slightest thing, which can throw me into panic mode..it’s a vicious cycle.
But, given that…I never thought it was anything but anxiety/stress.
I guess it’s worth looking into though. Do it while you have health insurance!

mattbrowne's avatar

In many cases it’s a psychosomatic reaction and a doctor can confirm this. Then next time when it happens again tell yourself:

It’s just a psychosomatic reaction.
It’s just a psychosomatic reaction.
It’s just a psychosomatic reaction.

This can reduce the anxiety and the symptoms often disappear after a few minutes.

gondwanalon's avatar

NOTE: I am not a medical doctor or anything like one. I’m a long time arrhythmia sufferer with atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and PAC’s. Waring a 24 hour ECG holter monitor can give a cardiologist a better idea of your situation than just a 30 second ECG strip that was performed on you. It sounds like you are experiencing pre-atrial contractions (PAC). PAC’s are not generally life threatening unless you have a weak and diseased heart and or the PAC’s are very frequent (like one PAC every couple of heart heats). Request a referral to see a cardiologist that specializes in electrophysiology. Good health!

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2classylady's avatar

I am having problems recently falling, not getting enough rest, had pneumonia for a month in January, age 62, brother died of heart disease, I had a bypass surgery in 2003, have been having intermittent palpations of the heart area, like a cell phone on vibrate feels, when I’ve put it inside my bra, now I have it more often, and afraid to go to sleep, have sleep apnea, don’t live alone but I do not sleep in same room with my mate, but I do have a cat that spends a lot of time on my lap, heard this could be something she’s worried about, just need to know if I need to see my heart doctor, which I was cleared two years ago with stress test, but have recently been under a lot of stress at work and getting my husband a ride to and from work, don’t get enough time to rest, having accidents recently.

gasman's avatar

@2classylady: A cat named Oscar made news in 2007 for its apparent ability to “predict death” among terminally ill patients in the nursing home where it lives: “No one’s certain if Oscar’s behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.” If your house cat is acting more affectionate lately, on the other hand, I wouldn’t worry if it’s name isn’t Oscar.

But since you have a serious cardiac history & questions and concerns about your condition, you probably should be discussing this with your doctor for medical advice.

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