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Palpitations

“Palpitations” is defined as “the awareness of one’s own heart beat”. 

We are not typically aware of our heart beating. In fact, there are so many functions that the human body performs every minute of every day that we are not aware of. Having to think about each and every one would result in information overload! Sometimes, however, something happens that makes us aware.  For instance, when we become startled, feel anxious, feel frightened, feel happy, or feel sad, we sometimes become aware of our heart beating differently. This most often happens because the heart is simply responding to something in it’s environment. In fact, the nervous system (ie, the brain) and the heart are in constant communication. For instance, if we were being attacked by an angry dog, our brain sends a signal to our heart to beat faster and stronger to supply more blood to our muscles so that we can escape danger.  

So, when we become aware of our heart beat, that could be because it is either beating faster, slower, or sometimes skipping a beat.

As pediatric cardiologists, we need to determine if these palpitations are simply a reflection of one’s heart simply responding to it’s environment, or if there is an underlying problem with the heart’s electric circuit (or possibly the presence of an extra circuit) that makes it beat too fast, too slow, change rhythm, pause, or skip beats.

For more specific information, please refer to the “Arrhythmia” section of this site. 

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Children's Heart Institute

P. O. Box 10066 McLean, VA 22102

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