There are several possible causes of heart skipping a beat, also known as palpitations. Some of the most common causes include:
- Arrhythmias: An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. Some common types of arrhythmias that can cause palpitations include atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
- Heart valve problems: Heart valve problems, such as aortic stenosis or mitral valve prolapse, can cause palpitations.
- Structural heart problems: Certain structural heart problems, such as a hole in the heart or a dilated cardiomyopathy, can cause palpitations.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and decongestants, can cause palpitations as a side effect.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can cause palpitations.
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: Consuming large amount of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can cause palpitations
- Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can cause palpitations by triggering the fight-or-flight response, which can cause the heart to beat faster.
- Thyroid problems: Hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, can cause palpitations.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you experience palpitations frequently or if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting. A healthcare professional can help determine the cause of your palpitations and recommend appropriate treatment options.
If you are experiencing palpitations, your cardiologist will likely recommend a number of tests to investigate the cause. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG records the electrical activity of the heart and can detect abnormal heart rhythms.
- Holter monitor: A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device that records the heart’s electrical activity for a period of 24 to 48 hours. This can help identify palpitations that occur infrequently or at unpredictable times.
- Event monitor: An event monitor is a portable ECG device that the patient can activate when they experience palpitations. This can help identify palpitations that occur infrequently or at unpredictable times.
- Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create images of the heart and can detect structural problems such as valve problems or heart wall abnormalities
- Tilt table test: A tilt table test is a diagnostic test used to evaluate unexplained fainting (syncope) or near fainting (presyncope). It can help determine if the palpitations are related to a problem with the patient’s blood pressure regulation or heart rate.
- Electrophysiology study (EPS) : An EPS is a procedure that uses special catheters (thin, flexible tubes) to study the electrical activity of the heart. This procedure can help identify the location of an abnormal heart rhythm and may also be used to perform therapeutic procedures to treat certain arrhythmias.
- Other tests may include blood tests to check for thyroid dysfunction, metabolic disorders, or anemia, as well as tests to assess your heart function such as chest X-ray and blood pressure measurement.
It’s worth mentioning that the tests that will be recommended for a patient depend on the patient’s symptoms and medical history, and may vary from one case to another. Your cardiologist will be the best person to recommend the appropriate tests for you.