Ask a doctor: Are heart palpitations serious?

Ask a doctor: Are heart palpitations serious?

August 11th, 2011 in Life Entertainment

Dear readers...

To submit a question for a medical doctor, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com.

Q: I'm 69 and have had heart palpitations for years. Should I be concerned about this

A: Palpitations are heartbeat sensations that feel like your heart is pounding or racing or even skipping beats. Palpitations may be felt in your chest, throat or neck. They may be caused by nicotine, caffeine, stress and anxiety, but often no cause is found. They are often not serious. However, palpita-tions can represent an abnor-mal heart rhythm (arrhyth-mia), which is more likely if you have known heart disease, have significant risk factors for heart disease, an abnormal heart valve or an electrolyte abnormality -- for example, low potassium. You should be seen by your physician to determine the cause of your palpitations. It is helpful to bring a record of how often you have palpitations, when they happen, how long they last, your heart rate at the time of the palpitations and what you are feeling at the time. This may help your doctor diagnose the seriousness and underlying cause of your condition.

-- Dr. David Salerno, The Chattanooga Heart Institute; member, Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society