Palpitations is the name given to the feeling or irregular or jumping heartbeat. Some people refer to this as heart flutters. Palpitations can occur because of a multitude of non-sinister reasons, such as diet, and anxiety. However, since palpitations can also be a sign that there is something wrong with your heart, it is always advisable to see your doctor as soon as you can.


A full clinical history and examination is essential. Heart murmurs can sometimes be the early signs of significant problems with the heart valves which can be the cause of palpitations. Blood samples are taken to exclude biochemical causes such a low potassium levels or even thyroid gland dysfunction.

Electrocardiogram: this is an easy test, though it has limited value since it only gives a picture of the heart rhythm in an instance in time Ambulatory

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ECG: this test records the heart rhythm over a long period of time and can be far more useful in diagnosing the nature of your heart rhythm.

Echocardiogram: this is an ultrasound scan of the heart which gives invaluable information about the shape and size of the heart, as well as the health of the heart valves and the heart muscle.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: a special scan which gives invaluable information about the detailed shape and size of the heart, as well as the health of the heart muscle.

It is very useful for looking to see if the heart muscle is receiving inadequate blood supply, or if it has become irreversibly scarred from a heart attack.This test is painless but the scanner can be a little noisy.

Electrophysiology studies: this study involves the insertion of catheters and electrodes in the heart via the groin. One of the cardiologists at our London heart clinic attempts to “irritate” the heart to reproduce, and then treat any underlying heart rhythm tendency. This can be quite useful in cases of persistent symptoms where the above tests have failed to elucidate the cause of symptoms in patients with palpitations.


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