We often experience a sensation of racing heartbeat, especially when we are exerting ourselves physically. Sometimes, such a feeling can occur when we are at rest. This symptom is known as palpitation. Often when one has such a symptom, it will be ignored as normal and nothing of significance. However, palpitation can be a sign of impending serious and severe heart condition if left untreated. In some circumstances, it can cause severe heart failure and even sudden death.
What could be the causes?
The heart chambers are formed by many specialized heart cells, capable of conducting electrical signals aided by a dedicated heart conduction system. It is very similar to a building which has electrical wirings running within the walls. Often, a fast heart rate is related to abnormal electrical circuits within the heart chambers that cause erratic firing of signals. Some other factors that can lead to palpitation include medications, caffeine intake, hormonal imbalances and anxiety/stress.
What should you do if you experience palpitation?
You will need to see a heart doctor (cardiologist) who specializes in heart rhythm disease, known as cardiac electrophysiologist. He will then perform a few basic tests to assess your heart, including the following:
Electrocardiogram (ECG): a tracing of the electrical signals from the heart that allows him to see your heart rhythm at a glance.
Echocardiography (ECHO): an ultrasound image of the heart, giving information about your heart structure and movement related to your heart rhythm.
Holter Monitoring: a device that allows your doctor to analyse your heart rhythm thoroughly, spanning a period of 24 to 48 hours.
What are the treatment options?
Electrophysiology Study and Radiofrequency Ablation
This is a specialized procedure performed by a cardiac electrophysiologist for identification and localization of the abnormal circuits within the heart chambers. Subsequently, therapy using advanced cardiac equipment is performed to target the abnormal circuit and allow the heart to beat normally again.
Specialized tools used to render a 3D model of the heart for treatment of heart rhythm disorder.
In some circumstances, some abnormal heart rhythm can be treated by use of medications. Your cardiac electrophysiologist will be able to advise you accordingly based on your condition.