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Heart palpitations: Are they dangerous?


At one time or another, almost everyone has felt their heart flutter. This feeling is common considering millions of people report each year they’ve felt their heart “skip a beat.”

Heart palpitations can occur in anyone regardless of gender, age or outward physical appearance, according to Dr. Muhammed Marwali, a cardiologist with Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists.

“Palpitations usually stem from a rapid heartbeat, also known as tachycardia,” Dr. Marwali said. “The patient feels the heart racing or fluttering, and the experience is sometimes accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath and even loss of consciousness. Symptoms can also be accompanied by chest pain or discomfort, and they can last minutes, hours or even days.”

Heart palpitations are usually caused by stress and anxiety, illegal drugs or medical conditions such as thyroid disease, low blood sugar, dehydration and anemia. Too much caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol can also cause your heart to beat faster for a period of time, as can prolonged physical activity or sensitivity to certain foods.

Heart palpitations aren’t usually harmful, but they may indicate something serious if they are recurring and getting worse. It’s especially important to see a cardiologist if chest pain is present or loss of consciousness occurs.

“Depending on the severity of the symptoms, people should call 911 for medical help,” Dr. Marwali said. “If symptoms aren’t severe, they can bring themselves to our cardiology office.”

A heart attack is typically characterized by more noticeable chest pain and shortness of breath.

Dr. Marwali, who specializes in electrophysiology, offers complete cardiac diagnostic tests to differentiate between heart palpitations and a heart attack.

“We utilize heart monitors, loop recorders, echocardiograms, electrophysiology studies, and tilt table tests,” he added. “We offer medical therapy treatments, and if necessary, invasive procedures such as catheter ablations.”

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Muhammad Marwali, Cardiologist

Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers

150 West High Street

Morris, IL

Phone: (815) 705-1300