Reviewed by Dr Nurul Aishah Jamaludin and Physician Kong Teck Chuan
What Are Your Heart Palpitations Telling You?
Published | 4 min read
Heart palpitations are generally harmless. However, it can also be a sign of a more severe health condition.
Fun fact: healthy people can also experience an irregular heartbeat. Heart palpitations tend to occur more regularly as you age. However, an extra heartbeat or two may indicate other, more debilitating conditions.
Take this quiz to identify the root of palpitations. It’ll also help you determine the steps you can take to regulate your heartbeat effectively.
Are You Ready to Learn the Causes of Your Heart Palpitations?
Multiple factors can lead to heart palpitations that are typically harmless. These include:
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause
- Physical exertion
- Lack of sleep
- Alcohol or caffeine consumption
- Use of inhalers or allergy medications, or blood pressure medications
Are Your Heart Palpitations a Sign of a Severe Health Condition?
Learning the reasons behind your heart palpitations can help you decide on treatment options that target your specific condition. Let’s learn what your answers suggest.
If your answers are mostly A’s
Your heart palpitations may reveal can tell of an underlying heart condition. Examples of these are:
- Heart failure – the heart being unable to pump blood properly throughout the body
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – heart muscle and walls enlarging and thickening
- Mitral valve prolapse – an upward bulging of the two valve flaps into the left atrium
- Congenital heart disease – birth defects that inhibit a normal functioning of the heart
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), heart palpitations happen if a person:
- Has a weak body constitution
- Experiences an overall reduction in the blood, qi, yin and yang due to a weak spleen
- Has a long-term illness that depletes the heart’s qi (vital energy) and yin
- Experiences overstimulating emotions
- Experiences an invasion of “evil” qi (邪气)
Usually, a healthcare provider will diagnose heart conditions by firstly understanding your diet, symptoms, medical history and use of medications. They may also opt to perform several tests to ascertain the health of your heart and lungs, such as:
- Blood tests
- Stress tests
- Urine tests
- A chest X-ray
- An echocardiogram (heart ultrasound)
- An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)
- An electrophysiology study
- Cardiac catheterisation
Separately, you may also need to wear a heart monitor when you’re at home. Doing this will help the healthcare provider better understand your symptoms.
Ways to Do Away with Heart Palpitations
A healthcare provider will prescribe a combination of modalities to address the heart condition triggering your palpitations. You may require medication, undergo surgery or a procedure, or use cardiac devices.
TCM physician Kong Teck Chuan recommends several acupoints to help improve the symptom of heart palpitations. The Neiguan (PC6, 内关) acupoint is mainly used for chest discomfort, which includes the heart, lungs and stomach health to attend to symptoms like nausea, chest tightness and anxiety.
Zusanli (ST36, 足三里) is mainly used for gastrointestinal issues. When used together, both Neiguan and Zusanli acupoints can help regulate cardiac and gastric functions – regulating intragastric pressure helps with blood pressure.
Tianshu (ST25, 天枢), Weidao (GB28, 维道), Zhongwan (RN12, 中脘), Shuifen (RN9, 水分), Guanyuan (RN4, 关元), and Sanyinjiao (SP6, 三阴交) acupoints are also beneficial for regulating systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
In addition, a 2015 study showed that cupping therapy has promise in alleviating ischemic myocardial conditions. Using herbal ingredients like safflower (Honghua, 红花), turmeric (Jianghuang, 姜黄) and red sage root (Danshen, 丹参) can improve the symptoms and clinical outcomes of angina. Astragalus (Huangqi, 黃芪), ginseng (Renshen, 人参), Chinese Angelica (Danggui, 当归) and liquorice root (Gancao, 甘草) can also be included in herbal formulas that treat heart failure.
If your answers are mostly B’s
Your heart palpitations are not dangerous and will disappear without medical treatment. You can make several lifestyle changes to help stop an irregular heartbeat. For instance, you can engage in activities that reduce your stress level.
Qigong, yoga, and deep breathing exercise are the techniques you can use. You should also limit your consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. Avoid using tobacco or nicotine products. Also, control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet.
Being aware of the symptoms accompanying heart palpitations can help differentiate between a normal or a life-threatening condition. If you want to consider using TCM, speak to a licensed practitioner to ensure the safety of use. If this quiz has helped you better understand the disorder, share it with your loved ones.
- Cleveland Clinic. Heart Palpitations. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
- NHS. Heart palpitations and ectopic beats. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
- American Heart Association. Problem: Mitral Valve Prolapse. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
- ScienceDirect. 2019. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
- ScienceDirect. 2017. Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cardiovascular Disease: Evidence and Potential Mechanisms. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2017. A Review of Chinese Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure. [Accessed 15 February 2022]
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