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‘Your Heart Skips a Beat ...’

  • Written by Dr. Maegan Knutson
How often are you aware of your heart beating? Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat? If you haven’t just been love struck it could be a common heart palpitation.

Why is that?

Your heart is truly an amazing electrical organ. On average the heart beats over 100,000 times a day. And nearly 99.99 percent of the time your heart probably beats perfectly. The heart sets the beat of your body; kind of like a drummer keeping time. However, every once in a while your heart can malfunction. Yes, it is totally normal for your heart to “flip flop, ”“flutter” and “skip a beat.” If you’ve noticed this, you should bring it to your doctor’s attention as some heart palpitations are harmless while others are quite concerning. This is why you should have your heart evaluated by a physician every year at an annual physical exam. Yes, I am suggesting that you should meet with your doctor at least once a year. In fact, if you are over 40, you should get an annual electrocardiogram (EKG) screening, even if you have not experienced cardiovascular symptoms.  An EKG screening shows the electrical activity in the heart pulse and can diagnose specific types of heart palpitations, or rule out the heart as the source of a concern.

There are many different kinds of heart palpitations.  Some are triggered by your cardiovascular system, some your nervous system, and some from substances you ingest. You actually have control over many of the triggers that can induce these palpitations. With heart palpitations it would be wise to ensure a high intake of water. Getting dehydrated along with the associated mineral imbalances is a common cause of heart palpitations. It’s important to drink a minimum of 60 ounces of water each day that is balanced with minerals (tap water, spring water, mineral water, etc.). An easy way to keep your minerals balanced is to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Be sure to also reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, nicotine and certain drugs such as cocaine & amphetamines which are all common causes of palpitations.

OK, here’s where you get disappointed with the doctor. Caffeine is a really common trigger for palpitations. Living in the Northwest it’s difficult to suggest that anyone should give up coffee or energy drinks since many of us are addicted to the stimulation of caffeine. The good news is that heart palpitations often improve by just reducing your caffeine intake. It is something to think about.

Some heart palpitations are related more to stress on the nervous system. In this case the heart is quite healthy, however there is a problem with the stress hormones and neurotransmitters. Stress hormones, like cortisol, neurotransmitters, and epinephrine (“adrenaline”), can trigger your heart to “skip a beat.” There are tests that can confirm your cortisol and neurotransmitter levels. The treatments for healing the nervous system would often be quite different from treatments directly for the heart. Healing the nervous system can involve counseling, biofeedback, herbal medicine, acupuncture and targeted amino acid therapies.

There are many natural and conventional treatments for palpitations. We already talked about improving hydration and reducing caffeine to get you started. Next, you should consult a naturopathic physician about taking minerals (like potassium and magnesium), fish oils, herbs and nutrients like CoQ10. The need and dosing of these nutrients will be determined by a visit with a physician after reviewing blood work, EKG and physical exam combined with your history.

The heart is a great example where conventional medical technology can pair with natural medicine to serve patients holistically. At Health Moves you will find naturopathic physicians that will listen to your history, perform necessary lab work, EKG testing and treat your heart palpitations and you as an individual. Call Health Moves to get you heart healthy.

Dr. Knutson is a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist at Health Moves.

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