published Thursday, December 8th, 2011

ASK A DOCTOR

Q: I feel occasional flutters in my chest. What does that mean?

A: The causes of chest fluttering are varied. They can range from issues such as stomach gas to abnormal heart rhythms. It is important to pay attention to other symptoms that may occur such as belching, shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain. From a heart standpoint, palpitations -- the medical term for heart flutters -- can be harmless extra beats or a sign of bigger problems such as heart disease. Your regular doctor or cardiologist can run some simple tests to determine the significance of palpitations. These tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG) in the office, a heart monitor worn for a day or an ultrasound of your heart. These tests are easily and painlessly performed and can answer many questions quickly. Treatment for heart flutters often depends on the underlying cause and can range from observation to daily medicine.

-- Dr. M. Christian Allan, Diagnostic Cardiology Group; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: Email a question for a medical doctor to ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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