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Anxiety and Heart Palpitations

Anxiety is a common mental health issue that affects over 40 million adults in the United States. While the condition itself is manageable with the right treatment plan, the symptoms of anxiety can be concerning.

In fact, some common anxiety symptoms can be similar to what you might experience if you have underlying heart issues. 

At More MD, our skilled medical team offers several diagnostic tests, including stress tests and echocardiograms. These tests evaluate unexplained symptoms like heart palpitations and shortness of breath to determine their underlying cause.

How anxiety affects your body

Anxiety is a natural stress response. When you feel scared or threatened, your body’s autonomic nervous system kicks into gear. This is known as your fight or flight response, a defense mechanism that prepares your body to react to possible danger.

The fight or flight response involves several of your major systems, including your:

Without even thinking about it, your breathing rate increases, and you begin sweating. Anxiety can also cause heart palpitations (a fast or erratic heartbeat).

Anxiety symptoms can range from mild and occasional to chronic and severe. In some more serious cases, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and other symptoms can mimic more severe conditions, such as a heart attack.

When to get help for anxiety

When you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack, it can be difficult to tell what’s actually causing your symptoms. For this reason, it’s important that you schedule a diagnostic evaluation with our team at More MD.

While it’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, ongoing episodes of heart palpitations, gastrointestinal issues, and intrusive thoughts should be evaluated by our medical team.

During a review of your symptoms, our physicians can screen for anxiety and co-existing disorders like depression. More MD also offer on-site blood pressure screenings, echocardiograms, and stress tests to ensure the palpitations you feel aren’t related to:

You may also benefit from diagnostic testing with a Holter monitor, a wearable device that records your heart’s activity over a period of 24-48 hours.

If your heart is functioning properly and your provider suspects you have anxiety, they may refer you to a specialist for treatment. Anxiety can be managed with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.

Other causes of heart palpitations

In addition to anxiety and underlying heart issues, there are a number of other potential causes of heart palpitations — many of which you can manage with lifestyle changes.

Possible causes of occasional heart palpitations include:

If your heart is healthy and anxiety isn’t an issue, you can work with the More MD team to learn more about lifestyle and dietary changes you should make to stop palpitations and protect your long-term heart health.

To schedule a diagnostic evaluation for unexplained heart palpitations, call the More MD office nearest you or schedule an appointment through the online booking system today. 

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