I imagine with Valentine’s Day upon us and romance in the air – not to mention all the chocolate – many hearts are probably beating faster. If, however, you feel your heart aflutter when it shouldn’t be, then you might be experiencing heart palpitations… read on for the heart-pounding details!
What is Heart Palpitation?
Palpitation makes your heart feel like it is racing, pounding, skipping a beat or even fluttering and it’s possible to feel them in your neck or throat, as well as in your chest.
There’s no need to panic just yet, because heart palpitation is typically harmless. They can be brought on by stress, physical exertion, or are sometimes an effect of medication, like cold medications or asthma inhalers. There are some cases, however, in which heart palpitations are caused by a heart condition such as arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). And it may also come as a surprise to know that heart palpitations can be a sign of iron deficiency.
Iron Deficiency and Heart Palpitation
Hemoglobin binds to oxygen, allowing the red blood cells to supply oxygenated blood throughout the body. Iron is a necessary component of hemoglobin production. As such, iron depletion causes low hemoglobin which means that your heart has to work harder/faster in order to provide the same amount of oxygen to your organs. This is one of the causes of heart palpitation.
Palpitation can also be a sign or symptom of non-cardiovascular conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or can be related to an underlying heart disease such as heart attack, heart valve problems, coronary artery disease or arrhythmias. Palpitation can impact cardiac output and potentially lead to heart muscular hypertrophy or heart insufficiency.
What You Can Do
If you’re experiencing frequent (or worsening) heart palpitation, then a trip to the doctor to check for iron deficiency and other possible medical causes is important. Blood tests can check your iron level and your doctor will help you determine whether or not the palpitations are a cause for alarm.
Speaking of cause for alarm – get yourself to the nearest emergency centre or call 911 immediately if your palpitation is accompanied by any of the following symptoms (as this may indicate a more severe condition that may require urgent attention):
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Severe shortness of breath
- Severe dizziness
If you’re still looking for a Valentine’s gift for your loved one, consider foregoing the chocolate (iron absorption inhibitor) and head straight for those roses! Or if you’re planning a lovely dinner, remember that oysters are an excellent source of iron. Finally, if you’re looking for more information on iron deficiency and how it affects your heart, you’re in luck! Since it’s Heart Month, I’ll be talking about this topic all month long – check these out:
- Interesting Heart Facts in Light of Heart Month
- The Connection Between Iron Deficiency and Heart Failure
This month’s articles are dedicated in loving memory of my parents, Leo Dove (who suffered a catastrophic stroke in 1993 and passed in 1996) and Alice Dove (who suffered her first and fatal heart attack in 2001). The woman I am today, I am because of you. The best treatment for heart and stroke is prevention.
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs