Heart and Vascular

Heart Palpitations 101 with Dr. Senfield

Feb 23 2024

We spoke with Jeffrey Senfield, MD, a cardiac electro-physiologist at Bon Secours St. Francis, about heart palpitations and when to seek care.

“Heart palpitations are when the heart beats out of sync,” Dr. Senfield explains. “Palpitations are very common. Most of the time they tend to be pretty benign, but sometimes in some patients, especially with some high-risk patients, it can be very concerning and it’s a very good reason to seek medical care.”

Heart palpitations are one of the more common complaints patients present to primary care providers, cardiologists and even emergency departments.

And every person has a different experience. Some people describe it as a rapid pulsation, while others said it feels like their heart skips a beat or even flutters in their chest.

“A lot of folks can have heart palpitations no matter where they are in life, but usually you see patients that are a little bit older in age that have palpitations,” Dr. Senfield adds.

Dr. Senfield tends to see them more often in patients in the 60 to 75 age range. Also, heart palpitations is a condition that can result from genetics or be triggered by other factors.

“I think that certain spicy foods, certain cold foods can be a trigger, most definitely stress can be a trigger of this as well,” he shares.

While heart palpitations are commonly mild, there are several indicators that raise concern.

“I think that it’s important for patients to seek medical care if they are concerned at all,” Dr. Senfield advises. “If they are concerned that their heart is racing and they don’t understand why, that’s a great reason to see a doctor. This is especially true for those patients who might be suffering really concerning symptoms – so, chest pains with moving, shortness of breath or breath with ambulation and patients who become lightheaded or have passed out. I would not only seek care, but I would see urgent care in some of those situations.”

A series of tests can be run to determine the best steps to take to support your heart health. It is also recommended to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and adequate sleep, along with several other best practices.

Also, there are several treatments for heart palpitations, including medical care for more serious conditions. As with any health issues, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding any concerns you have.

Want to learn more about your heart health? Take our online heart risk assessment today.

Also, learn more about the heart and vascular services we provide at Bon Secours.

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