Everyone has seen dramatic depictions of heart attacks in television and movies. Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, which is why heart problems can be so troubling. Here are four steps you can take if you think you may have a heart problem:
1. Know when to be concerned.
Heart palpitations are some of the most common heart disturbances. When you experience a heart palpitation, it may feel like your heart is skipping a beat. According to Mayo Clinic, as long as your heart palpitations don't happen often and they don't last longer than a couple seconds, they aren't an emergency. Some people experience heart palpitations occasionally, and it doesn't mean that you have a heart condition.
2. See your primary care physician.
If your heart palpitations happen often or last longer than a few seconds, you should get evaluated by a doctor. You should also see a doctor if they're accompanied by pain or shortness of breath. In most cases, you can make an appointment and wait to see your primary care physician to discuss your heart concerns. However, if you experience shooting pain in your chest, weakness in your left arm, or a feeling of impending doom, you should call an ambulance, since these are signs of a heart attack.
3. See a specialist.
If your primary care doctor thinks that your heart concerns might be a symptom of a heart condition, they may send you to a cardiology clinic. At a cardiology clinic, specialists will be able to evaluate and diagnose you if necessary. You may be asked to perform a stress test; you'll run on a treadmill to increase your heart rate while wearing a special machine to monitor your heart. Stress tests may be uncomfortable, but they're a reliable way for cardiologists to determine if you have a heart condition. You may also be asked to wear an EKG monitor for a week so your specialist can observe any heart anomalies over time.
4. Pursue a treatment plan.
Depending on the results of your tests, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan for you. If your heart is healthy, you may be asked to cut back on caffeine in order to reduce heart palpitations. Stress and depression can also cause unusual heartbeats. If your specialists discover a congenital heart defect or arrhythmia, you may have to take special medication or undergo heart surgery.
To learn more, reach out to cardiology services like Temecula Valley Cardiology.