Palpitations - Treatment

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What is the treatment for palpitations?

It is a medical emergency if palpitations are associated with chest pain (including jaw pain, indigestion or extreme fatigue), shortness of breath, or syncope (passing out). It is important to activate the emergency response system (call 9-1-1) and seek medical care immediately.

Treatment for palpitations depends upon the underlying situation and cause of the abnormal heart rhythm and is tailored to the specific patient's needs.

Many causes of palpitations are self-limiting and lifestyle changes may help decrease their occurrence. These include deceasing or avoiding the use of caffeine, alcohol, and over-the-counter cold medications. As well, many herbal medications contain stimulants that may affect the heart's electrical conducting system. Smoking cessation is always appropriate.

Depending upon the underlying cause of palpitations, medications may be prescribed to control the heart rate and rhythm. Other treatments may involve ablation or surgical techniques to remove the underlying cause of certain palpitations.

Pacemakers and defibrillators may be indicated if life-threatening conditions are the cause of palpitations.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Kim P, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

I am now, more than ever, convinced that palpitations can be stress related. I was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (intermittent) in 2009 when starting menopause. I was very stressed about it and my doctor reassured me that I was not going to have a stroke or heart attack. Symptoms went away immediately and until fall of 2014 I would only have periodic, short-lived episodes. I moved, and went to a new provider to whom I happened to mention the atrial fibrillation too and she scared the heck out of me, said I needed to be on blood thinners or I would have a stroke, etc. I went to a second doctor who said same thing. I saw the side effects of blood thinners, one of which can be death, and decided against them. The episodes are now much more often and intense and only started after these 2 doctors got me anxious again about it. I am now going to see a whole wellness provider to see how to manage the stress and I am pretty confident that I will be able to address this issue that avenue, not by listening to a Pez dispenser doctor who just wants to prescribe medication.

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Comment from: Ann Beth, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 04

My palpitations began 4 years ago at age 60 after an incident while pushing snow. My racing heartrate (160) suddenly paused and restarted in a bradycardia. This August, I blacked out behind the wheel, causing an MVA (motor vehicle accident). Doctors suspect sinus node dysfunction, but it has been intermittent and quite evasive on Holter tests. I frequently experience debilitating clusters of PVCs (premature ventricular contractions). Recently I've heard that chronic magnesium deficiency is rampant in our population. Yesterday my doctor prescribed 50 to 100 mg of magnesium daily. Here's hoping it helps to eradicate the problem, along with the associated shortness of breath and faintness.

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