Danbury Hospital’s Chief of Cardiology Discusses Heart Palpitations and Irregular Heartbeats
Andrew M. Keller
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Almost everyone has felt their heart beat fast or felt a "fluttering" in their chest. Heart palpitations vary from person to person, but they are usually perceived as an irregularity of the pulse or a flip-flopping sensation in the chest. These can be signs of arrhythmias, which are common, especially as we get older. Most arrhythmias are considered harmless and are left untreated, but in some cases, they can be serious and require medical evaluation and treatment.
Occasionally, patients note a strong single pulse instead. In many cases these symptoms are related to an irregular heartbeat, or a rapid heartbeat. In many patients, however, despite an exhaustive evaluation, nothing can be found. "An occasional extra beat is usually of no consequence," said Andrew M. Keller, MD, FACP, FACC, FAHA, FASE, Chief of Cardiology at Danbury Hospital and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, "but rapid or continuously irregular heartbeats, especially those with symptoms of dizziness or passing out, should be evaluated by your internist or cardiologist."
Typically an evaluation starts with a review of your history and a physical examination. In many cases this is followed by obtaining an electrocardiogram (EKG), blood test, and an ultrasound study of the heart (echocardiogram). For some patients, an exercise treadmill test may also be obtained. Patients will usually undergo some form of long-term heart monitoring such as a 24 or 48 hour Holter monitor, or more sophisticated 14 to 21 day monitors.
"In patients with infrequent but severe symptoms, long-term event monitors can be prescribed for three or four months, and in the most extreme case, monitors that last upwards of three years can be implanted just under the skin when the diagnosis is truly elusive," said Dr. Keller.
For many patients treatment is available, including medications or electrical ablation of the abnormal rhythm. In other it turns out the best treatment may simply be reassurance, but only testing and your physician are able to make that determination.
For more information regarding cardiac programs and services, go to DanburyHeart.org or to find a cardiologist in your area call 1-877-451-3627. To learn more about cardiovascular care, programs and services provided by Western Connecticut Health Network, please call 1-800-516-4743.
About Western Connecticut Health Network
Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The organization is anchored by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the two hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes the following affiliates:
- Western Connecticut Medical Group, an integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
- Western Connecticut Home Care, an agency for home care and community health services
- The Western Connecticut Health Network Foundations
- emergency medical and Level II trauma services
- an occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry
- a nationally renowned Biomedical Research Institute
Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in women's health, cardiovascular and cancer services; minimally invasive joint and spine surgery; digestive disorders, weight-loss (bariatric) surgery, and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for neonatology with a Level IIIb neonatal intensive care unit and accredited sleep disorder centers. Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns. Danbury Hospital was named a Top 100 Hospital by US News and World reports in 2012; a and a Top 100 for Value by Cleverly and Associates. New Milford Hospital is well known as a Planetree hospital and for its Plow to Plate, farm to table food program.
For more information, visit WesternConnecticutHealthNetwork.org, DanburyHospital.org; NewMilfordHospital.org and share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital or Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital.
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