Heart Palpitations & Fluttering
So there you are…. sitting in bed trying to go to sleep and your heart is pounding & or fluttering. Your mind starts to race, which of course makes the pounding and fluttering worse. You sit up, walk around, maybe get a glass of water, try to calm down but NOTHING seems to work…
If you feel your heart is beating too hard or too fast, if it seems to be fluttering, or if it seems to skip a beat, you are experiencing heart palpitations. They can be felt in your throat, neck, or chest. They are certainly one of the scariest physical issues you can have… but they are NOT usually what you think they are: heart attacks! They are usually something that is NOT life threatening but are still as scary as can be. Sure… in very rare cases they can be due to a serious issue… but that’s not the norm.
Most Common Heart Palpitation Causes
The most common heart palpitation causes include:
- Consuming stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause or during menstruation
- Electrolyte levels that are abnormal
- Certain medical conditions, e.g. low blood sugar, low blood pressure, hypo or hyper thyroid
- Certain prescribed medications
- Fear, stress, and anxiety
- Large, heavy evening meals
- Lack of water
With so many causes of heart palpitations, it is vitally important that you be in tune with your body or work with a professional who is able to examine your symptoms and history to identify the root cause.
Palpitations at Night
Many people feel these palpitations at night. This is usually due to it being the time of day when people try to relax but instead start thinking about the stressful conditions they encountered that day or will be encountering the next. This is also the time of day that most people tend to drink stimulants such as alcohol or take prescribed medication. These are factors that can lead the heart to beat erratically or simply make you more aware of it. Additionally, a large, heavy meal at night can also cause palpitations because the heart needs to work harder at getting blood to the stomach to digest the food.
STRESS RESPONSE IN THE BODY
Your adrenal glands are part of the HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal) axis, and when the body is going through a prolonged period of stress of any kind, the entire HPA axis— including the adrenal glands— works harder than it should. The brain (pituitary gland) releases hormones that indicate to the adrenal glands that they should release cortisol. The hormone cortisol is supposed to stabilize blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and reduces stress. At some point, the adrenal glands wear out from continuously pumping out hormones, leading to what’s known as adrenal fatigue.
Once this happens, the cortisol levels in your body start dropping and stress becomes increasingly difficult to handle. In order to cope with this, the body releases two additional hormones, norepinephrine and epinephrine, from the ANS (autonomic nervous system). The release of norepinephrine often causes anxiety in the brain; this is a survival mechanism that warns you to stay focused and alert in the face of stress. When there is an overflow of norepinephrine, however, it increases the heart rate and can cause palpitations. This often becomes more and more common as your Adrenal Fatigue continues and the body’s stress response spirals out of control.
Blood Pressure and Heart Palpitations
Aldosterone, another hormone produced by your adrenal glands, has the job of balancing potassium and sodium. This balance is a major part of blood pressure regulation. When your level of stress increases, more aldosterone is released, which in turn leads to water retention and high blood pressure, as well as the loss of magnesium and potassium.
A lack of potassium causes a number of health conditions, including cardiac arrhythmias (heart palpitations).
The opposite can also happen: as aldosterone decreases in your body during advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, your blood pressure will start to drop. In response to that drop in blood pressure, your heart will have to beat faster, and this, once again, may lead to heart palpitations. If this remains unresolved for a long time, the sympathetic nervous system may be activated, leading to the release of norepinephrine and adrenaline, both of which trigger heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations may start out as skipped beats at first. In severe cases, this can progress to premature ventricular contractions (PVC) and atrial fibrillation (A-Fib).
Resolving Heart Palpitations
Depending on the cause of heart palpitations, there are a number of actions you can take to help naturally resolve this symptom.
- Avoid medications that act as stimulants.
- Take steps to reduce that which causes you emotional anxiety or stress (whether work-related or otherwise): counseling, yoga, deep breathing, walking, removing negative people or situations in your life, etc.
- Avoid certain foods, especially those with high caffeine content.
- Increase your exercise regimen
- Start with proper nutritional coaching to improve your adrenal function.
- Consider dietary supplementation based on proper testing of your body’s functions
- Balancing adrenal and thyroid hormones naturally (work with a competent holistic practitioner who fully understands how these glands and their hormones work together). This is one of our specialties.
- You could have palpitations due to a food allergy or sensitivity. Get tested properly with a simple finger prick test that can be done at your home and sent directly to our lab
If the heart palpitations stem from anxiety, it is very important to de-stress, calm the body, and heal the adrenals. Once this occurs, the autonomic nervous system will no longer fire as frequently, and heart palpitations will start to decrease.
If the heart palpitations are a result of fluid and electrolytes, then it is important to maintain a steady blood pressure and take in the proper electrolytes. Drinking salt water if blood pressure is low (Celtic sea salt mixed with a bit of cream of tartar/potassium) is often a simple remedy that can help balance the body and reduce heart palpitations.
Taking high powered cardio pharmaceutical drugs should be the LAST thing you consider as they have numerous side effects.
LOOK… I know they are scary and cause you to be further stressed… but heart palpitations are a symptom… a sign… that something else in your body is not functioning properly.
It is important to consult with your cardiologist as well… Heart symptoms are never something to put off addressing. But If all medical tests come back negative and you still have a heart system that is fluttering… it is time to look at the possibility of hormonal or stress related causes. Give us a call… we’re ready to listen to you and we’re here to help. www.ThatsHealth.com
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