P8. Palpitations


‘Palpitations’ are the sensation that people can experience when their heart beat becomes irregular, quicker, stronger or slower. They represent a change in the electrical rate and often electrical ‘circuit’ of the heart.

Often palpitations are innocent, but they can also be of moderate importance or represent an extremely dangerous situation. Because of the potential for a serious problem to result from a ‘palpitation’, all patients who experience this sensation should consult their GP. In some patients, a referral to a cardiologist is required for investigation and possible treatment of the underlying issue.

Investigations often include blood tests, an echocardiogram (heart scan), a 24 hour Holter monitor and an exercise treadmill test. Some patients require more extensive investigations. Treatments range from reassurance through various medicines and even ablative therapy: a therapeutic ‘burn’ on the inside of the heart to “cut” an unwanted electrical circuit, or an implantable defibrillator device: for the very occasional patient with very serious electrical problems.