High cholesterol will cause palpitations
What are palpitations and racing heart?
Heart palpitations (palpitations) and racing heart (tachycardia) are well-known symptoms to many people.
When the heart beats, a strong, pounding pulse dominates in the chest or abdomen, often also in the neck or head area. A racing heart describes an accelerated, flattened heartbeat. By definition, one speaks of a racing heart if the heart rate is> 100 beats / minute.
Both symptoms can occur in the most varied of time courses: from one-off, briefly occurring, intermittently recurring, situation-dependent or manifesting as a chronic cardiac arrhythmia.
Synonyms and related terms
- Palpitations, arrhythmia; Cardiac fibrillation (colloquial)
English: Palpitations, tachycardia, arrhythmia
The human heart (cor) is a hollow muscular organ and one of the functionally most important structures for human life. Thanks to its ability to perform rhythmic contractions, it pumps around four to six liters of blood per minute through the body. Only permanent circulatory circulation, driven by the heart, ensures that all internal organs and the brain are supplied with vital oxygen.
With regard to the pumping mechanism, the relaxation phase (diastole), in which the heart chambers (ventricles) fill with blood, alternate with the expulsion phase (systole). The central drive is the heart's autonomous stimulation and conduction system. In the so-called sinus node (nodus sinuatrialis), a conglomerate of rhythmically active cells in the right atrium, electrical excitation potentials are generated, which via the AV node (atrioventricular node, nodus atrioventricularis), a structure that controls the heart rhythm, from the atria to the dividing wall of the heart chambers (Cardiac septum) and then transfers to the ventricular muscles (myocardium).
The myocardium, i.e. the actual heart muscle, is functionally an amalgamation of many individual, specialized heart muscle cells. These are connected to one another via small ion channels (so-called "gap junctions"). Specifically, this ionic conductivity means the possibility of the unhindered propagation of excitation over the entire heart muscle. Thus, the potentials emanating from the sinus node (charge shifts, current flow) cause an electrically coordinated excitation of all myocardial cells, which also leads to an almost simultaneous contraction of these cells and manifests itself in the heart's visible pumping function.
Although the heart forms a functionally autonomous unit, it is under the regulatory influence of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. These are two fundamentally oppositely working evolutionarily important systems of the body, which can set a kind of physiological "basic tension" (basic tone). On the one hand, by mobilizing energy reserves, the sympathetic nervous system ensures a tense, attentive state ready to flee ("fight, flight, fright" - "fight, escape, fear"): In contrast to this, mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxation is and digestive situation ("rest and digest"). The heart function is also linked to this: increased frequency, increased ejection volume in the tension phase and increased systemic blood pressure signal a sympathetically mediated stress and tension situation. During parasympathetic dominance, the heart function calms down, the pulse rate drops and the circulation calms down.
If we now notice palpitations, palpitations or a rapid heartbeat, either a malfunction may have occurred in a structure of the heart or there may be a general imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The following section lists possible causes.
What can trigger palpitations?
- Psychological factors and illnesses such as excitement, fearful situations, acute or chronic stress, as well as eating disorders with severe underweight and lack of nutrients
- Physical strain
- Cardiovascular diseases such as chest tightness (angina pectoris), coronary artery disease (CHD), arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Functional cardiac arrhythmias: atrial fibrillation or flutter, extrasystoles, sinus node inefficiency, as well as conduction disorders (AV block, bundle branch block)
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction) or general heart failure (cardiomyopathy)
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or the surrounding connective tissue (endo- or pericarditis)
- Diseases of the lung and bronchial system (bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD, tuberculosis, bronchial carcinoma, pleural effusion)
- Metabolic diseases such as overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia), overweight (obesity)
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
- As part of the immune response to infections or systemic inflammatory reactions
- Anemia and volume deficiency due to acute or chronic blood loss, shock, or blood formation disorders
- Consumption of luxury foods (alcohol, caffeine, nicotine)
- Drug side effects
- Drug abuse
What can you do yourself?
Most of the time, a palpitation of the heart, palpitations or an accelerated heartbeat (palpitations), which was noticed for a short time, disappear again quickly and therefore have no real disease value, depending on the situation. However, if these symptoms occur over a period of minutes, generally more frequently or with accompanying symptoms such as chest tightness and severe pain, dizziness, nausea, possibly vomiting, drowsiness and circulatory problems, cold sweating, shortness of breath or visual and speech disorders, you should take this seriously and clarify it with a doctor to let.
Help from the specialist
Depending on the specificity of the symptoms, further detailed diagnostics can be carried out by various specialists based on a discussion with your doctor.
What to expect from your doctor
Before your doctor begins an examination, there will be an introductory discussion (anamnesis) about your current symptoms. As part of this, he will also ask you about previous complaints and any existing illnesses.
You can expect the following questions:
- How long has your palpitations / palpitations existed? Was there a triggering event or possible situations in which you feel this more frequently (for example, among crowds, during stress, in the morning / in the evening)?
- Can you give an exact description? What do you feel exactly?
- Have there been any changes in the course of the symptoms?
- Are you experiencing additional symptoms or pain?
- Have you ever suffered from it and have these symptoms occurred in a family-run manner?
- Are there any current physical or mental illnesses, and if so, are they being treated?
- Are you currently taking any medication?
- Do you drink a lot of coffee / cola?
- Do you smoke?
- Approximately how much alcohol do you consume per week?
- Do you suffer from stressful situations in everyday life?
Based on your symptom characteristics recorded in the previous anamnesis and your current state of health, the doctor can now use the following diagnostics:
- In-depth, thorough physical examination: especially listening (auscultation) of the heart, lungs and abdomen with the stethoscope can already provide indications of a possible illness
- Blood pressure measurement, possibly creating a 24-hour profile
- Taking blood to check your general physical condition
- Electrocardiogram (EKG), if necessary while exercising on the bicycle ergometer (stress EKG)
- Ultrasound examination of the heart (sonography) and the carotid arteries (Doppler echosonography), if necessary under stress on the bicycle ergometer (stress echocardiography)
- Blood sugar test
- Imaging procedures such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT)
- Coronary CT angiography
- Cardiac catheter examination with administration of contrast medium to visualize the coronary arteries
Short-term stumbling of the heart and palpitations are often not due to a disease of the heart itself and therefore do not require therapy.
However, if there is a definitely diagnosed heart disease, this should also be treated with medication or surgery under medical supervision. Your doctor can use the following preparations for this purpose:
- Medicines that modulate the cardiovascular system, some of which lower blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs) such as digitalis glycosides, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, AT-I receptor antagonists
- Diuretics (furosemide, HCT, aldosterone antagonists)
- Antiarrhythmics (amiodarone)
- Tranquilizers (sedatives, anxiolytics)
In the case of pronounced, therapy-resistant cardiac arrhythmias, there is the option of implanting a cardiac pacemaker (defibrillator, ICD = implantable cardioverter defibrillator), as well as various interventions that improve blood flow to the heart muscle and restore improved function (balloon dilatation, stent implantation).
Herbal preparations such as valerian, hops or St. John's wort can contribute to a more relaxed state of mind for symptoms caused by restlessness and stress that are not directly based on a heart disease. However, their administration should also be monitored by a doctor.
Prevention (prophylaxis, prevention)
The following lifestyles can make a decisive contribution to relieving the heart and preventing cardiovascular disease:
- Healthy, wholesome, vitamin-rich and as low-fat diet as possible. Grandmother already knew: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!". Pay attention to moderate consumption of luxury foods: a high cholesterol level, obesity, smoking, Regular and excessive alcohol consumption are the most important factors promoting the development of diseases of the cardiovascular system.
- Regular exercise
- A balanced “work-life balance”: Treat yourself to breaks and relaxation phases in everyday life, avoid frequent or permanent stressful situations. Ideally, you should actually finish the work at the end of the day. If possible, avoid taking the to-do list for work home with you and try to understand and enjoy your free time as such.
Since palpitations, palpitations and palpitations usually only occur in the context of situation-related excitement and thus cannot be traced back to a heart disease, they do not pose any danger to those affected.
The prognosis for diseases of the cardiovascular system depends on the individually diagnosed severity and extent of the clinical picture as well as the possibility and the effect of the therapeutic intervention. A reliable prognosis can rarely be made, but your doctor may be able to give you an assessment based on study results and on the basis of your own experience.
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