In the past, women were told that a racing heart was nothing more than a panic attack, when often it was a symptom of an arrhythmia or a heart rhythm disorder. Radmira Greenstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology specialist at Michigan Heart, says a thorough health history is the first step to diagnosing the problem.
“If you are having racing heartbeats before you go on stage to give a talk, it’s probably anxiety. When your heart starts racing out of nowhere, it’s less likely to be related to a panic attack,” Dr. Greenstein explains. “In general, women tend to have more palpitations than men as a result of hormonal changes.”
An examination may lead to additional testing, including an ultrasound of the heart and heart monitoring, Dr. Greenstein points out.
“If you are having palpitations every day, we will recommend a 24-hour monitor that you wear at home. We ask you to keep a diary and note when you are having episodes so that we can correlate the heart rhythm at the time that you were feeling symptoms.”
If you are not having symptoms every day, Greenstein recommends a monitor that can be used for up to 30 days or even implanting one that can last more than two years.
If you are experiencing intermittent palpitations, Dr. Greenstein recommends a visit to your primary care physician. When symptoms continue and include lightheadedness, dizziness or chest pain, you should go to the hospital.
“I provide individualized care guided by the patient and inclusive of the patient’s family,” she says.
About Dr. Greenstein
Radmira S. Greenstein, MD has been practicing in the Ypsilanti and Jackson, Mich. area for more than a decade. She is a member of the American College of Cardiology as well as a member of the admissions committee at the University of Michigan Medical School. In addition to her cardiology practice, Dr. Greenstein volunteers as a Russian language translator.