Have you ever had the sensation of your heart skipping a beat ? Well that may have been a palpitation you felt. There are many causes for palpitations that we will discuss. These causes include: hyperthyroidism, hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in the blood), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), anemia, hypertension, infection, anxiety attacks, causative agents (caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs, stimulants, stress, exercise, over the counter weight control medications), and mitral valve prolapse.
When a patient comes in complaining of palpitations as a healthcare provider we must run all of these differential diagnoses through our mind. We must complete a detailed history and physical to find the causative agent or refer to cardiology if all signs point to cardiac origin. If the patient is complaining of palpitations along with chest pain, we must defer them to the emergency room immediately to rule out life threatening cardiac issues.
Of course if the identified cause can easily be solved by lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake, we must educate our patients on lifestyle changes. Palpitations is a condition we as healthcare providers should not take lightly and must adequately work-up each patient for. If you are experiencing palpitations, contact your healthcare provider immediately to be evaluated.