Anxiety related palpitations

Patient

Q: I have noticed that whenever I am at work, which is a fast paced and stressful environment, I feel short of breath, have palpitations in my heart where I can feel it pounding hard, often feel weak, tired and light-headed. I had an ECG but it didnt reveal anything. I am worried that am developing a heart condition. Please help?

Doctor

A:   There are several reasons why you may be experiencing palpitations or the sensation of your heart “pounding”. This may be anxiety related, due to abnormal thyroid function, or less commonly due to heart rhythm disturbances. If these only occur in a stressful or work environment, they may be due to anxiety. The only way to diagnose what is causing your symptoms is to record a heart tracing during these episodes. I advise attending your family doctor for a full history and clinical examination. He may refer you for a 24 hour Holter (heart) monitor, which records a 24 hour electrical trace of the heart and will check for any heart rhythm abnormalities. He may also check some blood tests, including thyroid function, and provide treatment options depending on the cause of your symptoms.

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