Ignore palpitations at your own peril, warn doctors

Most often, things like tiredness, dizziness, palpitations, unexplained fainting are ignored

Bengaluru: Most often, things like tiredness, dizziness, palpitations, unexplained fainting are ignored by those who experience them, dismissing them as minor symptoms. These indications could be signaling a serious ailment. Heart experts advise lay people not to dismiss these as temporary conditions or ascribe them to unhealthy fast food, lack of sleep or excessive stress.

Many Bengalureans make these assumptions, pop painkillers and multivitamins and chew on energy bars. But there’s a high likelihood that behind these signs are a more worrying problem — a serious heart rhythm problem, for instance, known as arrhythmia.

“The heart usually follows a normal pattern of 70-80 beats per minute. Some psychological variations may occur during exercise or fatigue, but even if the heart rate increases the normal pattern remains. But in arrhythmia there is an abnormal heart rhythm which can either be very low or very high, like up to 200-250 beats per minute,” says Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular sciences and Research (SJICR). Jayadeva Institute is a government- owned, autonomous institute and offers super specialty treatment to all cardiac patients. It sees roughly around on 130 patients with arrhythmia.

“The peak occurrences of slow heart rate are more common in those above 50 years of age. Tachycardiomyopathy can occur with anyone from a young age group to the middle-aged. All cases of arrhythmia have common symptoms — dizziness, palpitation, blurring of vision and even unconsciousness. Timely diagnosis of arrhythmias is crucial to direct therapies that can make a significant impact on patient care,” says Dr Manjunath. He adds, “Monthly. we see around 50 patients with high grade heart issues. Some 60-70 patients with Tachycardiomyopathy.”

There are treatments available for the same. If this goes unnoticed, some patients can develop enlargement of the heart and decrease in the heart function too. “Basic Echocardiogram is a must. It is a simple procedure and gives us a clear picture. Patients should also do a thyroid test as well, since excessive hormone release may also lead to palpitations,” says Dr Manjunath.

ELR, best technique for Diagnosis

Patients with infrequent short-duration transient symptoms, recurring over weeks or months, are unlikely to be diagnosed by the conventional Holter monitoring that monitors the heart for 24-48 hours, or an ECG either, since the likelihood of symptom-ECG correlation is very low. External Loop Recorder (ELR) is more long-term in monitoring and can allow better diagnosis of intermittent arrhythmias that do not happen daily.

ELR has the capability to monitor a patient’s heart for a long duration (7-30 days) and has a higher chance of providing diagnosis to patients with infrequent symptoms. Utilization of this technology has demonstrated appreciable impact in patient care, also acting as a viable tool for preventing serious conditions from escalating.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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