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Palpitations

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Palpitations are fast, forceful heartbeats in an irregular rhythm. You may feel like your heart is racing, jumping, throbbing, or fluttering. You may feel extra beats, no beats for a short time, or skipped beats.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Some palpitations may be caused by serious heart rhythm problems. If these problems are left untreated, it can increase your chance of heart failure, heart attack, or stroke. Rarely, palpitations are caused by life-threatening health problems.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

Pulse oximeter:

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

Oxygen:

You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Rest:

You may need to rest in bed until your symptoms are under control. Your caregiver will tell you when it is OK to get out of bed. Call your caregiver before getting up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then use the call button to call a caregiver.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood and urine are tested to check the levels of salts and minerals.
  • Heart monitor: This test is also called an EKG or ECG. Sticky pads are placed on your skin to record your heart's electrical activity. An EKG gives information about how your heart is working. Lie as still as possible during the test.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.
  • Echocardiogram: This test is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure, movement, and blood vessels of your heart.
  • Exercise stress test: An exercise stress test helps caregivers see the changes that take place in your heart during exercise. It checks for blockages in the arteries. The test is done while you ride an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill. Caregivers will ask if you have chest pain or trouble breathing during the test.

Treatment:

You do not usually need treatment unless you have a separate heart condition. You may be given medicine to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of the Blausen Databases or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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