It’s always a scary experience to have irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations because you might wonder if it’s the big one and at what point you need to talk to your doctor or it’s just a harmless thing.
The good news about arrhythmias or missed heartbeats is that they’re oftentimes harmless and if they occur once in a while, then it’s nothing to worry about. But if you feel like your heart is racing, experience missed beats in sequence or you keep on experiencing frequent heart skips, then you need to be evaluated by your doctor.
Like Western medicine, the heart of a person, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is an organ system that pumps blood all over the body. But unlike Western medicine, TCM also believes that the Heart (with a capital H), is where the spirit or Shen resides and is the organ that governs your consciousness, memory, and emotions. This TCM view of the emotional connection to the heart gives a certain credence to phrases such as “suffering from a broken heart,” “tugging on your heartstrings,” or “loving something or someone with all your heart.”
The heart is very sensitive to stress and upsets as it is an organ of spirituality and emotions. The symptoms related to the heart system in TCM include nightmares, vivid dreams, insomnia, and anxiety.
Physical factors can also make you experience skipping beats. So if you are experiencing palpitations, the list below will give you some helpful tips to prevent or stop them from happening.
Do not overeat – when you overeat and are already prone to skipped beats or palpitations, it may trigger a series of arrhythmias. Therefore, eat moderately as well as avoid cigarettes, chocolates, and alcohol.
Don’t hold your breath – rapid, tense, or shallow breathing may also trigger arrhythmias. Breathe in a proper manner and with each breathe exhale and inhale fully.
Avoid drugs that can cause arrhythmias – a lot of over-the-counter and prescription drugs can result in irregular heartbeats. Medications such as antidepressants, asthma inhalers, decongestants and bizarrely, those that are supposed to treat arrhythmia are drugs to avoid when you are prone to this condition. Read the labels that come with the prescription drugs or of you want, talk to a pharmacist or your doctor to see what other meds you can take that do not have the side effect of skipped heart beats.
Don’t exercise strenuously – if you are prone to irregular heartbeats, exercising in an intense manner can trigger episodes of palpitations. To prevent arrhythmias, before working out, warm up first for a couple of minutes and then cool your body down after an exercise routine.
Resolve your stress – palpitations are often experienced by people who are burdened with stress. To alleviate stress, indulge in relaxing therapies such as acupuncture, massage, mediation, or yoga.
Quit smoking – smoking stimulates the cardiovascular system which can lead to heart arrhythmias. If you are prone to that condition, quit now that you may enjoy a much better quality of life and avoid arrhythmias.
Avoid alcohol – certain individuals who are sensitive to alcohol, just a single drink can trigger can set off an episode of irregular heart rhythms.
Stay away from caffeine – chocolates, energy drinks, and tea possess qualities that can trigger or worsen palpitations.
Lifestyle choices that you can always modify are frequently the factors that cause to palpitations to develop. Therefore, living a healthy peaceful lifestyle is key to preventing palpitations from ever occurring in your life. The safest option if you’re experiencing palpitations is to visit your doctor.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a licensed acupuncture physician and the medical director of BodaHealth in Vancouver, BC.