Normal and Abnormal Heartbeats
Heart palpitations are nothing but rapid heartbeats which tend to give a pounding feeling. The normal rate at which the heart beats in an adult is usually 60 - 100 beats per minute. Rapid heartbeats occur when the heart beats more than 100 beats per minute, which in medical terms is known as tachycardia. The abnormality in the heart rhythm is known as arrhythmia, which is the main cause behind heart palpitations.
Experiencing these palpitations is not always bad; it's normal to feel them when a person is under any form of physical or mental stress. However, if you are unable to determine the reason behind the unexplained palpitations, then there is a possibility of it to be an alarming sign of an underlying health issue. You must seek medical assistance immediately if there are other symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, or any kind of pressure or pain in the chest.
You can experience these abnormal palpitations at any time of the day. There are many people who experience these during the night, while they are preparing to sleep. While most people associate arrhythmia with heart related problems, there can be many other reasons, ranging from external to internal factors.
Causes of Rapid Heartbeats at Night
- Stressed out about something? Is there a problem that is making you do a lot of thinking?
- Having a lot of caffeine lately, coffee or energy drinks? Especially before going to bed?
- Lighting up a lot of smokes, or pouring in a lot of drinks these days?
- Taking certain medications, herbs or diet pills that are causing this.
- Consuming heavy meals containing high amount of fats and carbs, especially before going to bed.
- Not drinking a lot of water to keep yourself well hydrated.
The aforementioned are some of the most common reasons behind experiencing rapid heartbeats. So, if you have said yes to even one of the questions mentioned above, then you know what modifications are required in your lifestyle.
Stress is the most common cause associated for this condition. If your mind is upset about certain things or events happening in your life, you might be lying on the bed and thinking about those things over and over again. Or, you might be sipping alcohol, smoking a cigarette and doing too much of thinking before going to bed, which in turn, is leading to heart palpitations in the night. Does that make sense?
Apart from stress, there are other facets to this problem, as well. Palpitations of the heart could be a symptom of many health conditions, or an alarm for you to pull up your socks and bring healthy changes in your lifestyle. Some such causes are mentioned as under
Consumption of Certain Medications
Consumption of certain medications like asthma, high blood pressure, or cold and cough medications containing a stimulant known as pseudoephedrine can also cause palpitations. Consult with your doctor if this could be the cause.
Pregnancy leads to significant hormonal changes in a woman's body, which can cause heart palpitations. This can also be experienced during menstruation.
Thoughts and incidents that lead to strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or fear.
Fever could be another reason for heart palpitations.
Performing exercises which are strenuous in nature, especially if you do it just before sleeping.
If you consume a heavy meal in the night, and experience heart palpitations, it simply means that the heart is pumping more blood into your stomach to help the digestion.
Hyperthyroidism is also a very common reason behind heart palpitations at night.
Health problems like blood pressure and heart-related problems may also lead to heart palpitation at night.
Low Oxygen Levels
Rapid heartbeat signifies that the heart is having troubles to get adequate amount of oxygen, due to low levels of oxygen in the blood. Therefore, drinking water is necessary.
Another reason for heart palpitations is high cholesterol levels in the body. If that's the case, then you will also be experiencing symptoms like excessive sweating, pain in the left arm, and fatigue.
Getting a professional advice on the condition is a must to avoid further complications.
Treatment for Heart Palpitations
Determination of Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations could be determined only by conducting proper tests and diagnosis, which can help in revealing the exact palpitation causes. Tests and examinations including ECG, chest X-ray, Holter monitoring, echo-cardiogram, and so on, are used to identify the exact cause. Medial assistance is a must.
There is no scope for self-diagnosis when it comes to this condition. And because your heartbeat is in question, you cannot delay the visit to a doctor, as well. Your healthcare specialist would give you the appropriate treatment, and ask you to follow certain lifestyle changes. Some of them are mentioned as under.
- Perform meditation and exercise to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Make sure you get a good and sound sleep at night.
- Avoid intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and medications or drugs that consist of stimulants that boost heart rate.
- Consumption of illegal drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, etc., can also cause rapid heart rate. Therefore, it is best to avoid these.
- Do not eat anything at least 4 hours before going to bed to avoid heart palpitations at night while you are about to sleep.
- It would be a good idea to record the timings and the frequency of heart palpitations.
No matter how minor or severe be the case of experiencing heart palpitations, it is strictly advisable to consult a doctor and seek medical advice without any further delay, especially if the palpitations are accompanied by dizziness and tightness in the chest. Do not delay and seek professional help immediately. Take care.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.