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New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

When Anxiety and Heart Palpitations Coincide?

If your heart frequently races or beats like it is flipping inside the chest for no apparent reason, it is a cause for concern. It can be a sign of arrhythmia or other heart problems. In many cases, anxiety is one of the most common causes of these sensations. Do not waste time trying to figure out what is happening and what to do on your own. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Reisman at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center to get the best advice regarding your heart health and care. The expert heart doctor will offer the most personalized treatment plan that works best for the discomfort you are going through.

To understand when anxiety and heart palpitations coincide, you must focus on the relationship between palpitations and anxiety and how they affect each other. Anxiety can be a major factor that leads to heart palpations and even heart disease if you are not careful and seeks timely medical attention.

What Is Anxiety?

The Ambulatory (Holter) Electrocardiographic (ECG) Monitoring TestAnxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. It is the feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come, such as the first day at a new job, going for an interview, meeting new people, or giving a speech.

If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for more than six months, or you get panic attacks frequently that begin to affect everyday life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental issues faced by thousands of people across the United States and other parts of the world.

Anxiety is classified as a mental health issue, and your response to anxiety can be very physical as it involves stress or fight and flight response. This response protects you at times when you feel threatened or exposed. It begins with the release of hormones, particularly adrenaline.

How Anxiety Causes Heart Palpitations?

Anxiety can trigger various physiological processes in your body that help you perceive the danger, deal with it or stay away.

The physiological changes brought on by anxiety include:

  • Increased or irregular heartbeat;
  • Elevated blood pressure;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Dilation of pupils;
  • Escalated breathing;
  • Panic attacks.

Abnormal heart rhythm means your cardiovascular system is involved. It can result in palpitations if the feelings of anxiety continue for a long time or occur frequently.

As the first response to anxiety, you will feel like your heart is racing, skipping a beat, or flipping flopping in the chest. A pounding pulse in your neck is also a sign of anxiety. In some cases, you may experience acute attacks or become stuck in the response that leads to persistent heart palpitations.

Studies show that stress and anxiety can worsen palpitations or irregular heartbeat, causing atrial fibrillation if you already suffer from these problems. People with atrial fibrillation or palpitations are more likely to get depressed or anxious as they affect their quality of life.

Heart Palpitations

If your heart palpitations result from anxiety, the chances are that you are not suffering from something critical even though it is not a pleasant feeling. It can be treated by managing your reactions. In such cases, doctors recommend lifestyle changes and de-stressing that relax your mind and body to feel better.

If lifestyle changes and de-stressing fail to ease your tension and heart palpitations, consulting an expert heart doctor is essential to have your condition evaluated. They may be a sign of some underlying medical issue that needs investigation.

Knowing whether your palpitations are related to anxiety or a more critical issue with your heart rhythm can determine any functional problem with the heart.

Diagnosing Heart Palpitations

Identifying anxiety as the main reason behind palpitations requires a physical examination, medical history, and blood or urine tests to rule out other medical conditions that contribute to the symptoms you are experiencing.

In most cases, palpitations are a sign that your heart is temporarily working a little hard. Sometimes palpitations could result from a heart condition like arrhythmia that must not be ignored. Using the most advanced diagnostic equipment and multidisciplinary approaches, the experienced heart doctor can determine if your palpitations are occurring due to any problem with your heart.

Diagnostic tests include:

The doctor may also suggest using a portable monitor to measure your heart’s performance throughout the day as you engage in regular activity to find out more about your symptoms and triggers. If your heart function is normal, and nothing else seems to be the reason behind your symptoms, anxiety may be the real culprit. Detecting your condition and addressing it can help to prevent further problems and save you from heart disease later.

If frequently occurring heart palpitations are worrying you, contact a heart doctor to know what may be the possible causes behind your racing and fluttering heart. Anxiety can be treated with therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, and you can live a better quality of life with good care. Dr. Steven Reisman at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center helps you understand your condition better and provides the necessary treatment to ensure overall good health. The expert doctor offers tools and strategies to cope with anxiety and deal with resulting palpitations or other unpleasant symptoms.

Dr. Steven Reisman | Cardiologist in New York City

Dr. Steven Reisman is an internationally recognized cardiologist and heart specialist. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and a founding member of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

Dr. Reisman has presented original research findings for the early detection of "high risk" heart disease and severe coronary artery disease at the annual meetings of both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Dr. Reisman was part of a group of doctors with the Food and Drug Administration who evaluated the dipyridamole thallium testing technique before the FDA approved it.

Dr. Steven Reisman's academic appointments include Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California and Assistant Professor at SUNY. Hospital appointments include the Director of Nuclear Cardiology at the Long Island College Hospital.

This page was published on Oct 25, 2021, modified on May 19, 2022 by Dr. Reisman (Cardiologist) of New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

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