Have you ever experienced a racing heart rate, irregular pulse or the sense that your heart skipped a beat and wondered if it’s serious?
“It’s one of the most common concerns that patients have,” Toni Brayer, M.D., an internal medicine doctor at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, says. “Patients often become aware of their heart beat and wonder if it’s normal. During menopause, for example, women may feel more random, irregular heartbeats, or the sensation of the heart skipping a beat. Other times a racing heart can just come out of nowhere.”
If you are worried, the first thing to do is sit down, relax and then take your pulse, Dr. Brayer recommends. “Count the beats of your heart for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get your heart rate. If it’s under 100 beats per minute, and you are feeling OK, you are probably not experiencing a serious rhythm disturbance.”
In contrast, if your resting pulse suddenly rises to 100 beats per minute or more, that can be a sign of tachycardia – a more serious disturbance in the rhythm of the heart. You should also be concerned if you are feeling irregular beats or a racing heart and also feel light-headed, dizzy or otherwise “wrong.”
Take a few minutes to get familiar with heart attack symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away or head to the emergency room, Dr. Brayer says.